MARCH 23, 2020 | APSC SHAREHOLDERS
The following was received from the Ohio Pharmacists Association on March 20, 2020
OPA Legislative Alert: As Pharmacists Across Ohio Answer the Call, OPA is Answering Yours

The past week has felt like an entire month's worth of work at OPA. We know that it's felt like a lifetime for pharmacists and pharmacy staff across Ohio. Because we know that you've been busy, we wanted to update you on all that we've been fighting for on your behalf.

OPA staff has been fielding a flurry of calls and emails from pharmacists telling their stories, highlighting problems, blowing the whistle on safety issues, sharing best practices, and providing recommendations for how the state can maximize their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have listened, and we have utilized all of it.

Today capped a series of significant policy changes that will better empower pharmacists to elevate the standard of care in their pharmacies, reduce administrative hassles, and keep themselves and their patients safe.

After a series of reforms announced by the Board of Pharmacy this week that reduced pharmacy staff hiring hurdles, allowed more administrative functions to be done remotely, opened up compounding capabilities amid shortages, prioritized use of protective equipment, authorized emergency refills, and reduced regulatory requirements; the Board, in cooperation with OPA, released several significant measures that aim to protect pharmacy staff and the patients they serve .

To reiterate what we said in this week's Newsline, OPA would like to thank Governor Mike DeWine, Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Steve Schierholt, board president Shawn Wilt, and board policy director Cameron McNamee for consistent and thorough communication with OPA, swift reviews and considerations, and an overall proactive approach that is clearing ambiguity and keeping pharmacy staff and patients safe.

Today, we were also pleased with two other major wins:


Recognizing the need for further reforms, OPA has sent a letter to the governor's office this week to also make requests for the following:

  • Securing reasonable amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) for pharmacies without the ability to maintain safe distances
  • As mentioned above, temporarily eliminate insurer/PBM requirements for patient signatures, and to protect pharmacies from audit takebacks due to a lack of signatures
  • Eliminating insurer/PBM limits and restrictions on mailing and delivering prescriptions
  • Empowering pharmacists to test and treat for flu, strep, and other tests, including COVID-19 as appropriate and as it becomes available, and if adequate PPE is made available for testing
  • Ending restrictive insurer/PBM networks and single-source contracts that are restricting patient access to needed medications and supplies
  • Allowing pharmacists to dispense emergency medications without a prescription
  • Requiring insurer/PBM coverage of compounded shortage medications
  • Creating a formal assessment and referral process for pharmacies encountering high-risk patients
  • Removing unnecessary prior authorizations and "refill too soon" limits from insurers/PBMs
  • Allowing therapeutic substitution for drugs of concern and medications that are out of supply or in shortage
  • Implementing Medicaid provider ID numbers for pharmacists
  • Allowing insurance coverage for pharmacist-initiated medications and OTC products 
  • Obtaining reimbursement for pharmacist-rendered services (consult agreement drug therapy management, INRs, etc.) to relieve pressure on health systems and emergency departments

These are just a few of our suggestions, but we are open to hear many more. We are gathering feedback hourly at this point. If you see any opportunities or concerns that you feel need to be addressed, please contact aciaccia@ohiopharmacists.org

As a reminder, this week we launched a special section of our website dedicated to COVID-19 news and resources. We plan to update with any and all relevant information. In the interest of serving the profession and the public, we have made this open to all members and non-members alike. Please bookmark it and check it often.


In closing, we are so incredibly proud of how pharmacists and pharmacy teams are stepping up in this moment of disruption and risk. We have already heard a number of amazing stories of pharmacists being nimble, clever, and resourceful in their efforts to meet the growing and complex needs of their patients and their communities. Please let us know what you are doing, so that we can keep track of how you are innovating, adapting, and succeeding. Fill out this brief survey . If a member of OPA's team reaches out to you to get more information, please take a few minutes to respond. If you are willing and able, we want to share your stories with other pharmacists, media, and state officials. It's time to show the public the value of pharmacists.

Keep us in the loop on the issues you're facing, and we will continue pushing to address them. To you and your families: Be safe. Be healthy. Be resilient. Be pharmacists.
American Pharmacy Services Corporation | www.apscnet.com
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