ASHP takes a hard line on specialty residencies

July 11, 2005

In a show of solidarity, ASHP persuaded more than 500 of its members to sign a petition urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to restore pass-through Medicare funding for specialized pharmacy residency programs. ASHP joins the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (AACP) in asking CMS to revise the proposed rule. The ongoing battle between ASHP and CMS that has been brewing for two years was one of the highlights of the 2005 ASHP Summer Meeting in Boston last month.

In a show of solidarity, ASHP persuaded more than 500 of its members to sign a petition urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to restore pass-through Medicare funding for specialized pharmacy residency programs. ASHP joins the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (AACP) in asking CMS to revise the proposed rule. The ongoing battle between ASHP and CMS that has been brewing for two years was one of the highlights of the 2005 ASHP Summer Meeting in Boston last month.

The installation of Jill Martin, Pharm.D., as ASHP's new president dominated the organization's internal business. In her inaugural address, Martin said that ASHP must continue to provide strategic leadership in moving the profession forward. She urged her colleagues to embrace the diverse expertise of health-system pharmacists, find new and innovative ways to improve continuity of care, and promote high standards. Martin is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Cincinnati and the director of transplant outcomes at University Hospital.

In addition, Diane Ginsburg and Lynnae Mahaney were elected to three-year terms on the ASHP board of directors, and Marjorie Shaw Phillips was reelected as chair of the house of delegates, ASHP's policy-making body. Ginsburg is clinical associate professor of the pharmacy practice division at the University of Texas, Austin. Mahaney is chief of pharmacy services at the VA Medical Center in Madison, Wis.

The house of delegates also adopted a policy advocating full health insurance coverage for all persons living in the United States, including coverage for prescription drugs and related pharmacist patient care services. In the category of new business, a motion was passed to support compounding activities by pharmacists only when a legitimate medical need exists, including the lack of a commercially available product or dosage form.

At a press conference, ASHP executive VP Henri Manasse elaborated on his recent op-ed piece on conscientious objection published in the June 10 issue of the magazine Science. The essence of Manasse's position: While pharmacists have a right to step away from an activity they find ethically and morally objectionable, they also have an obligation not to impose their personal morals on patients and to recognize the rights of patients to receive approved therapies.

Commenting on the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' decision to add medication reconciliation as a patient safety goal, ASHP immediate past president Mark Woods said that pharmacists are best positioned as the healthcare provider to provide this kind of service. "They know more about dosage forms and the patient history with respect to allergies and tolerances. And they have a better understanding of clinical pharmacology."

At a last-minute educational session, representatives from CMS hosted a program encouraging pharmacists to learn more about the new Medicare Part D drug plan that is set to begin early next year. CMS personnel told attendees that pharmacists need to educate themselves about the details of the new plan so that they can better explain the prescription drug plan to their patients and better understand how changes in reimbursement will impact their facilities.

In other news, Thomas Thielke was named the recipient of this year's Harvey A. K. Whitney Lecture Award. Thielke is VP of professional and support services at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. He was recognized in part for his contributions to technological and clinical advancements, including the development of a decentralized pharmacist and centralized unit-dose system as well as the implementation of automated dispensing systems.

This year, ASHP's summer meeting attracted more than 3,100 attendees.