L.D. 455 Testimony



An Act Relating to the Provision of Tobacco Cessation Services by Pharmacists

Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services

Room 209, Cross State Office Building

Friday, March 31, 2017, 9:30 a.m. 

Good morning Senator Brakey, Representative Hymanson, and Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services. I am Peter Michaud of Readfield, Associate General Counsel of the Maine Medical Association and a registered nurse licensed in Maine. Today I am speaking in opposition to LD 455, An Act Relating to the Provision of Tobacco Cessation Services by Pharmacists.

The Maine Medical Association is a professional organization representing more than 4000 physicians, residents, and medical students in Maine whose mission is to support Maine physicians, advance the quality of medicine in Maine and promote the health of all Maine citizens.

As you all know, the MMA strongly supports tobacco cessation. Tobacco is probably the greatest public health threat we have faced in this nation in the last century. Our concern is not with the idea of cessation, but rather with the extension of the pharmacy scope of practice this bill would provide. It is puzzling to us why this bill is here in the Committee on Health and Human Services rather than in the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development, where these scope of practice issues are frequently debated. The fact that this bill seeks to expand the scope of practice is clearly indicted by the fact that it seeks to modify a section of the pharmacy law entitled, “Practice of Pharmacy.” That section lists the actions that constitute such practice.

We have no objection to pharmacists providing any “over-the-counter” products to people without collaboration with other health care professionals. Prescription medications, by contrast, should be provided in accordance with prescriptions from duly licensed health care professionals acting within their scopes of practice. This bill does not identify which category includes the “nicotine replacement products” to which it refers.

The bill also seeks to authorize certain, undefined “tobacco cessation counseling services.” There is nothing in the bill that would require pharmacists to be trained or educated in such counseling.

The real purpose of the bill is seen in its very first section, entitled “Reimbursement for pharmacist tobacco cessation services.” It seeks to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice in order to justify reimbursement from MaineCare.

On behalf of the Maine Medical Association, I ask that you vote “Ought Not to Pass” on LD 455. I would be pleased to address any questions you may have.