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January Legislative Update: NPI & HB 357

NPI:  National Provider Identifier

Just a reminder, HIPAA regulations require that all health care providers and health plans have a unique identifying number.  Pharmacists and pharmacies need a National Provider Identifier (NPI) when transmitting health information in electronic form to Medicare and other payers subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. There is no fee to apply for an identifier.  If you have not yet applied for your NPI number or if you need to check the NPI number of another provider, access https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/Welcome.do.

HB 357:  Dispensing During Public Health Emergencies

Primary Sponsor:  John Carney (D-Columbus)

This bill affects pharmacy in that it permits certified first responders and emergency medical technicians to dispense drugs in accordance with a physician-approved protocol during a public health emergency.  Current law generally prohibits anyone who is not a pharmacist, or a pharmacy intern under the personal supervision of a pharmacist, from dispensing, compounding, or selling dangerous drugs or otherwise engaging in the practice of pharmacy.  This authority is established by exempting the EMS personnel from the prohibition and associated penalties that would otherwise apply for engaging in the practice of pharmacy without a license. Specifically, the exemption is extended to the following EMS personnel certified by the State Board of Emergency Medical Services: first responders, emergency medical technicians-basic, emergency medical technicians-intermediate, and paramedics.

We have a lot of questions about certain provisions in this bill, and feel things need to be more clearly spelled out as far as what constitutes an emergency and what types of drugs this legislation would include.  Pharmacists are the drug experts in the healthcare continuum, and it sets a dangerous precedent to extend the ability to dispense drugs to EMS personnel without the pharmacists' extensive education.

If you have any questions or comments about the issues mentioned in this article, please contact Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs, at 614.586.1497 or kvyzral@ohiopharmacists.org.


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