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SB 5557 Expands Patient Access to Care in Washington

UW School of Pharmacy Students and Faculty at the Governor's Signing of SB 5557 on May 11, 2015
UW School of Pharmacy Faculty and Students  at the Governor’s Signing of SB 5557 on May 11, 2015

An Historic Day in Washington

Washington will be the first state in the country to require that pharmacists are included in health insurance provider networks under new legislation (SB 5557) signed by Governor Inslee on Monday, May 11, 2015. This law will increase patient access to medical care from pharmacists practicing within their scope of practice, just like nurse practitioners and physician assistants. This care means that patients will have access to covered benefits provided by pharmacists. Good news, especially for people in rural or underserved locations and those dealing with a chronic illness. Full story from UW’s Health Science NewsBeat: Law gives state’s pharmacists compensated-provider status

Institute for Innovative Pharmacy Practice (I2P2) Impact

I2P2 Endowed Clinical Professor Don Downing
I2P2 Endowed Clinical Prof. Don Downing

UW School of Pharmacy’s I2P2 Endowed Clinical Professor Don Downing has advocated for this change for over 15 years. “Ideally, 20 years from now the pharmacist will be a fully integrated member of your healthcare team,” Downing said. “Your pharmacist would refer you back to your physician regularly as appropriate, freeing physicians to do their best work, including acute care and diagnostics. As a patient, you will benefit from the full experience and specialized knowledge of your complete health team.” The I2P2 endowment was established by UW alumni who are passionate about innovative pharmacy practices.

Innovation in Pharmacy: A Washington Tradition

UW Pharmacy faculty have established other practice standards that have won widespread acceptance, including collaborative agreements for pharmacists prescribing under limited authority, providing Plan B emergency contraception (nine states), and pharmacist-provided vaccinations (all 50 states). Downing, working with UW Pharmacy faculty and students, have lead these innovations in pharmacy practice. In 2014, he won the Felicia Stewart Award for Lifetime Achievement for his career-long commitment to increasing patient access to emergency contraception.

SB 5557 Resources

We have a host of resources to help you understand what this milestone legislation means. Bookmark this page—we will continue to add to this list as items emerge!

Washington Pharmacists Gain Medical Provider Status provides an overview of the changes coming to pharmacy practice in the state of Washington beginning in 2016

Washington State Pharmacy Association, stay up to date on the latest news about SB 5557 (note: some pages require membership/registration to access)

Marcie Sillman of KUOW’s The Record interviewed UW School of Pharmacy’s I2P2 Endowed Clinical Professor Don Downing about what SB 5557 means for the average person

UW360 profiled Don Downing not too long ago and he talked about what it would mean for pharmacists to have provider status in health insurance networks