WAUWATOSA, Wis.—Wisconsin is now the eighth state in the country to recognize pharmacists as non-physician providers under a Medicaid system. With the passage of three pro-pharmacy bills last month, including Act 98, pharmacists can help close the healthcare gap for Wisconsinites in underserved areas of the state.
“Roughly 90% of Americans are within five miles of a pharmacy, so that’s access right there,” said Dr. George MacKinnon, founding dean and professor of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy.
MacKinnon added that two out of three Wisconsin counties are considered medically underserved, the majority of which are within the state’s extreme urban and rural populations.
“The system we have right now is very cumbersome because it requires a patient to see a provider after they receive a test more than likely at a pharmacy,” he said. “Why not simplify that and test and treat at the pharmacy?”
Act 98 mandates gives Wisconsin pharmacists "provider status" and reimburses them for services to Medicaid patients.
“Historically, pharmacists have only been reimbursed when they provide a product, but sometimes, the most important thing is not always around a product,” MacKinnon said. “It might be helping a diabetic use their meter better.”
Keegan Morris, who is 22, is in his first year of pharmacy school at MCW. He wants to be a pharmacist in rural Wisconsin.
“Providing those services to them would be really rewarding for me,” he said. “This new legislation helps us to actually function in these underserved communities where there may not be as many primary care doctors.”
Under these new laws, doctors are now able to delegate work to pharmacists. This includes blood pressure monitoring, giving vaccinations or giving patients medications for chronic illnesses.
“We’ll be able to really establish ourselves in those communities that are underserved and play a larger role in getting them access to those services they previously didn’t have,” Morris said.
The two other pieces of pharmacy legislation signed into law by Governor Tony Evers in December are Act 100 and Act 101.
Read each piece of legislation in its entirety below:
Senate Bill 255, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 98:
- Requires the Department of Health Services to provide reimbursement under the Medicaid program for services that are typically reimbursable under the program but that are provided by a pharmacist within the scope of their license or that are provided by a pharmacist that was delegated by a physician.
Senate Bill 300, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 100:
- Requires pharmacy technicians to be registered by the Pharmacy Examining Board;
- Prohibits any person from engaging in the practice of a pharmacy technician or using the title “pharmacy technician” or “pharmacy tech” unless the person is registered as a pharmacy technician by the board;
- Requires the board to promulgate rules to define the activities that constitute the practice of a pharmacy technician for purposes of the registration requirement; and
- Authorizes the board to promulgate emergency rules to implement the changes in the bill.
Senate Bill 308, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 101:
- Updates current Wisconsin statutes to align with Pharmacy Examining Board rules that allow for remote dispensing to occur at locations that are not licensed as pharmacies; and
- Clarifies that free and charitable clinics, as well as narcotic or opiate addiction treatment centers, will not be affected by this legislation.