Magazine article Drug Topics

It's the Law: N.J. Pharmacists to Be Paid for Diabetes Education

Magazine article Drug Topics

It's the Law: N.J. Pharmacists to Be Paid for Diabetes Education

Article excerpt

N.J. pharmacists to be paid for diabetes education

In New Jersey, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman has signed into law a bill requiring health insurers to provide coverage for diabetes self-management education, equipment, and supplies. This means that all certified diabetes educators (CDEs) and R.Ph.s who have successfully completed a boardapproved course on this subject will be paid for diabetes management services provided in the state. This legislation is significant because it makes New Jersey the first state in the nation to implement required payment to pharmacists for disease state management services.

The bill was originally introduced by the American Diabetes Association. After learning about it, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association (NJPhA) got involved and began working with the ADA to ensure that pharmacists formally trained in diabetes management would be reimbursed for their services. The NJPhA met with opposition early on, as some people within the N.J. pharmacy community felt that all pharmacists should be reimbursed for diabetes education, even if they were simply selling blood glucose monitors. However, members of NJPhA felt it was important to distinguish these specially trained pharmacists from others to ensure the quality of care and prevent abuse of the reimbursement system.

More training needed

"We've had pharmacists out there doing this pro bono for several years who really know what they are doing and have really good practices. Those are the people who need to be compensated. At this time, I would say that there are only about 30 pharmacists in the state who can be compensated according to the guidelines in the bill. We hope that more and more pharmacists will go in for additional training to provide these services," said Debbie Nichol, director of professional and educational affairs for NJPhA.

Though many are happy that R.Ph.s don't have to complete the 2,000-hour CDE course and examination to qualify, they are still fearful that the qualifications imposed by the bill could lead to a system of certification, which would then create two classes of pharmacists.

"To become an expert in anything, you have to upgrade your professional expertise in these areas," said Steve Brandt, executive director of the Garden State Pharmacy Owners. "There's no doubt about that, and I'm in favor of that, but I'm not so sure that certification is the answer. Even though it sounds great, it could establish two classes of pharmacists[Pharmacy] doesn't need any more division."

The new law in New Jersey does not require certification but does require R.Ph.s to take a board-approved course in diabetes education and management. Temple University School of Pharmacy and Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Science have been working with each other to offer an ADA-approved program in diabetes education. …

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