On October 8, an important milestone was reached for the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592/S. 314) when the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives became cosponsors to the legislation. With 219 of the 435 Members of Congress in the House of Representatives signed on as sponsors and cosponsors to the bill, APhA looks forward to the opportunity to work with Congress to help millions of medically underserved Medicare beneficiaries access health care through pharmacist-provided services.
Reaching cosponsorship by over half the House tells us we can do it. We are so grateful to Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Todd Young (R-IN), and Ron Kind (D-WI), who introduced the legislation and all the House members who support it. We also want to thank you, APhA members and others in the pharmacy community, for getting the bill to this point. It was because of your hard work that this milestone was achieved, but our work is not finished.
Since the Pharmacists Provide Care campaign began, more than 20,000 pharmacists and student pharmacists have signed APhA’s online form to support the cause of provider status for pharmacists. And nearly 31,000 letters have been written by you and sent to your representatives in Congress. We have led visits to Capitol Hill to explain the importance of the bill and encourage Congress to take action. Many of you have hosted members of Congress and their staffs in your practice settings. Clearly, Congress is listening. Since Congress reconvened from its summer recess in September, 33 House members have cosponsored the bill.
Given the limited days Members of Congress will work between now and the end of their session, it is critical that we drive harder than ever. We have reached a milestone that tells us this is a winnable cause. Let’s use it as the inspiration to get us across the goal line.
Pharmacists already know passage of the bill by Congress will enable seniors in medically underserved communities to access those pharmacists’ patient care services that are allowed by state scope of practice laws through Medicare Part B coverage. Pharmacists already know that millions of Americans lack adequate access to primary health care and this is only expected to get worse as demand increases. But we need to keep spreading the word about the benefits of H.R. 592/S. 314.
This is a crucial moment in the public debate on how to improve health care access and how to reduce America's health care costs. National surveys show Americans believe pharmacists are integral members of their health care team. While the majority of House members have stated that they agree, more support in the House is necessary to ensure the bill’s passage.
Our nation’s 300,000 pharmacists stand ready to help. Keep up the hard work, and, together, we can get this done.