The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, S. 109, was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, January 12, 2017. The bipartisan legislation, which provides Medicare Part B beneficiaries in medically underserved communities access to pharmacist-provided care, has 26 cosponsors.
“APhA is pleased to see the reintroduction of legislation in the Senate that will increase patient access to health care by taking advantage of pharmacists—an important but often underutilized member of the patient’s health care team,” APhA said in a statement. “APhA looks forward to the reintroduction of companion legislation in the [U.S. House of Representatives] in the coming weeks.”
The legislation’s primary sponsors are Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Susan Collins (R-ME). In a media release, the sponsors noted that people who live in rural areas can more easily access a pharmacist than a physician.
“Where that pharmacist is licensed to provide a service, Medicare ought to pay the pharmacist for it. That's what [the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act] does. It's good for pharmacists because they get paid for providing services to rural seniors. It's good for rural seniors because they keep access to their local pharmacist and don't have to go to the doctor for straightforward medication management,” Grassley said in the release.
APhA and its partners in the Patient Access to Pharmacists Care Coalition (PAPCC) led a campaign in support of the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act during the last session of Congress. By the end of 2016, the House bill had 296 cosponsors and the Senate companion bill had 51 cosponsors.
Other PAPCC members also released statements celebrating S. 109’s introduction.