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COMMUNITY PHARMACIST MAGAZINE
June 18, 2009
Pharmacists Have Solution to Address White House’s Economic Case for Health Care Reform
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) recently applauded the report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) which provides a comprehensive analysis of the economic impact of health care reform.
The report provides an overview of current economic impacts of healthcare in the United States and a forecast of where we are headed in the absence of reform; an analysis of inefficiencies and market failures in the current health care system; a discussion of the key components of health care reform; and an analysis of the economic effects of slowing health care cost growth and expanding coverage, points out a recent APhA news bulletin.
"The CEA report makes clear that the total benefits of health care reform could be very large if the reform includes a substantial reduction in the growth rate of health care costs," the document noted. "This level of reduction will require hard choices and the cooperation of policymakers, providers, insurers, and the public. While there is no guarantee that the policy process will generate this degree of change, the benefits of achieving successful reform would be substantial to American households, businesses, and the economy as a whole."
"We are pleased to see the White House acknowledging the economic impact of workers with chronic diseases that are not optimally treated," said Thomas E. Menighan, APhA executive vice president and CEO-designate.
"Reducing absenteeism and increasing workers' productivity when they are on the job have been real keys to the Asheville Project and other APhA Foundation projects that demonstrate the effectiveness of pharmacist medication therapy management interventions. We at APhA are working hard to make sure MTM services are included in health care reform legislation, and we are especially pleased to see growing support for this concept from our colleagues in medicine, employer and consumer organizations, and the pharmaceutical industry."
"American hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and academic researchers have developed techniques and prescription drugs that permit the treatment of a host of previously untreatable conditions," CEA explained. However, despite leading the world in GDP devoted to healthcare, the health care system in the United States trails a host of countries in life expectancy of men and women.
An increasing evidence base indicates that pharmacists help keep health care costs down through pharmacist-provided patient care services, such as educating patients on how to take their prescription medications properly and safely, as well as administering health screenings and immunizations. With current costs to the health care system to treat chronic diseases at $1.3 trillion annually, taking medications properly can help prevent the need for catastrophic or emergency care.
Patient care programs like the APhA Foundation's Diabetes Ten City Challenge and the Asheville Project, demonstrate how employers and pharmacists can work together to help people manage their chronic disease and reduce health care costs. In the Asheville Project; days of sick time decreased every year (1997-2001) for one employer group, with projected increases in productivity estimated at $18,000 annually. These programs utilize pharmacists as the patient's health care coach. Pharmacists stand ready to be part of the solution and active participants in developing the framework for a reformed health care system, concluded APhA.