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    Albertsons Cos. Improves Access to Hormonal Contraception in OR

    Effort follows Oregon bill HB 2879 implementation

    Albertsons Cos. has embarked on a collaborative effort to improve access to hormonal contraception for Oregon women, allowing select pharmacies to bill Oregon Medicaid plans for consultation service fees. This makes the Boise, Idaho-based retailer the nation’s first to complete the process for a patient successfully.

    Following the implementation of Oregon bill HB 2879, which allowed anyone 18 years or older to receive birth control prescribed by a pharmacist, Albertsons Cos., in partnership with Oregon State University, worked to develop the processes that now allow Oregon pharmacists to be paid by Medicaid for the consultation service fee when prescribing birth control, eliminating the fee for the Medicaid patient.

    "Oregon was the first in the nation to implement a law that gave women access to hormonal contraceptives through their local pharmacy," explained Mark Panzer, SVP, Albertsons Cos., pharmacy health and wellness. "We are excited to be at the forefront with them to broaden patient access to health care services, decrease financial barriers, and add to ways that community pharmacists can directly and conveniently provide care for customers through the pharmacy."

    While the effort to set up billing through Medicaid for Oregon women is a milestone, the work isn't complete.

    “We are strategically expanding the service with Oregon insurance providers and pharmacy retailers to extend this billing capability for hormonal contraceptives," said Paige Clark, RPh, director of alumni relations and professional development at Oregon State University/OHSU College of Pharmacy. "Eventually, we anticipate all insurance plans will have processes in place to cover the pharmacist consultation service fee so that any woman in Oregon who wants birth control can have access to it, regardless of their financial constraints."

    The process for obtaining hormonal contraceptives through a pharmacist is simple. Not needing an appointment, the patient completes a self-assessment questionnaire and meets with the pharmacist in a private area to discuss her information and personal contraceptive needs. If the patient's self-assessment information and blood pressure are acceptable, the pharmacist creates the written prescription, counsels the patient and dispenses the medication in pill, patch, ring or depo form, depending on state law. The process takes about 15 minutes.

    Billing consists of two transactions: one for the medication and another for the consultation service fee. Insurance already covers the cost of birth control medication. The pharmacist consultation service fee, which is now covered by Medicaid, is reimbursed at the same rate as medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. If a patient doesn't have insurance, she has the option to pay cash for the consultation service and can discuss with the pharmacist what low-cost contraceptive choices are available to her.

    Limitations to women obtaining hormonal birth control directly from a pharmacist may include high blood pressure, certain health conditions, and contraindications to the hormonal contraceptive therapy.

    For qualified women, hormonal contraceptives can be obtained in most Safeway or Albertsons pharmacies in Oregon.

    Albertsons Cos. operates stores across 35 states and Washington, D.C., under 20 banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs.

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