New law: Insurers must treat pharmacists as other providers


By Lori Maricle, College of Pharmacy

SPOKANE, Wash – The Washington State University College of Pharmacy celebrated Monday as Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law requiring health insurance carriers to recognize pharmacists in the same way as other providers such as physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

ESSB 5557 will go into effect by January 2017.

“This law doesn’t change the pharmacist’s scope of practice,” said a Washington State Pharmacy Association statement. “It allows pharmacists to apply to participate in health plans and be treated the same as other providers.”

Julie Akers

“We believe that utilizing pharmacists’ training and expertise at the fullest extent of licensure improves patient outcomes and reduces overall costs to the healthcare system,” said Julie Akers, a clinical assistant professor at the WSU College of Pharmacy. “ESSB 5557 opens doors that will allow pharmacists to be integral members of the patient care team alongside the primary care provider.”

“We are looking forward to the additional opportunities that will be available to our graduates in the state of Washington as a result of this legislation,” said Gary Pollack, dean of the college.

While commercial health plans have recognized pharmacists for dispensing medications, they routinely have refused to include pharmacists in their participating provider networks.

Jennifer Robinson

Akers and WSU pharmacy faculty colleague Jennifer Robinson have been involved in the statewide discussion to determine what infrastructure, processes and guidelines will be needed for pharmacists to obtain the credentials required by insurance companies to receive reimbursements.

The new law was sponsored by Sen. Linda Parlette.