CMCS encourages expanded scope of practice for pharmacists

Informational bulletin cites options for timely access to drug therapy

On January 17, 2017, CMS’s Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) issued an encouraging states to expand the scope of pharmacy practice as a way of fostering immediate access to certain drugs. CMCS noted that states can expand the scope of pharmacy practice by specifying pharmacists may dispense medications:

  • After independently prescribing them
  • After entering into collaborative practice agreements that enable the pharmacist to operate under authority delegated by another licensed practitioner who has prescribing privileges
  • Under “standing orders” issued by the state
  • Based on other predetermined state-authorized protocols

CMCS added that these practices are solely a state option, not a requirement, but stressed that they can “facilitate easier access to medically necessary and time-sensitive drugs for Medicaid beneficiaries.”

In the bulletin, CMCS cited examples where states have expanded pharmacists’ services to address a number of national public health challenges. Some states have sought to meet the need for speed with medications that should be given quickly to achieve full efficacy, such as naloxone for treating narcotic depression or emergency contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancy. CMCS also noted that saving patients and pharmacists the step of ing a prescriber has made it easier for patients in a number of states to obtain influenza vaccinations and tobacco cessation products.

States are not required to use these pharmacist services under Medicaid state plan amendments between states and the federal government. Providers are not required to use the services to receive federal reimbursements. The bulletin was issued before the Trump administration’s CMS nominee has been confirmed.

The bulletin is available as a PDF at .

Updated February 8, 2017