The California Assembly and Senate last week approved a bill that will allow advanced pharmacists to practice with a little more autonomy.
SB 493 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) is designed to address the ongoing access-to-care issue in California by allowing pharmacists to initiate certain kinds of prescriptions and to provide clinical advice and patient consultation. That additional input could help ease the workload for primary care providers, Hernandez said.
"Pharmacists are vastly underutilized for the amount of training and education they receive," he said. "The pharmacy profession can play and will play an important role in this expansion mode, and they'll need an expansion of their scope of service to enable them to do so."
"It is no secret that our state's health care system is greatly overburdened," said Carmella Gutierrez, president of Californians for Patient Care. "This legislation partially addresses the problem by allowing qualified, educated and trained pharmacists to provide more primary care services and to practice in more settings, under the full extent of their licenses."
Because millions of Californians will be eligible for health insurance starting in 2014, the current dearth of primary care physicians will be felt more keenly in California, particularly in underserved areas, Gutierrez said.
"This new law will help more patients receive the right care at the right time," she said.
The Assembly approved the bill Sept. 11 with a 77-0 vote. The Senate approved amendments on Sept. 12 with a 37-0 vote. It now heads to the governor.