WASHINGTON, DC – The American Pharmacists Association released the following statement in response to an April 12, 2022, letter from the American Medical Association (AMA) to Representatives Kind and McKinley regarding H.R. 7213, the “Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act.”
APhA’s statement follows our 3/28/2022 related statement entitled: APhA House of Delegates calls for removal of barriers to access to pharmacist-provided patient care services.
Underscoring the pharmacy profession’s key, lifesaving role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic by distributing and providing testing and vaccinations, H.R. 7213, the “Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act,” is long overdue. The bill would advance access to health care for Americans by permitting Medicare payments for pharmacists in limited but significant ways - all in accordance with state scope of practice laws while preserving the ability of states to regulate pharmacists.
However, for obvious competitive reasons, AMA hopes to block this meaningful health care reform and thus continue to limit access to medical services to communities across our nation.
Rather than coming to the table in a collaborative manner with positive solutions, the AMA has sought to protect and preserve an antiquated system that, without provisions permitted by amendments to the declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, would have been wholly inadequate over the past two years during the greatest health care crisis in our lifetime. This is only the latest effort by the AMA to limit patient care access for Americans, considering they most recently objected to the Biden Administration’s “Test to Treat” program that has provided valuable health care services to millions of Americans through pharmacy. AMA also opposed allowing pharmacists to give vaccines to children younger than 18 years, a move necessary to address the public health threat of declining childhood-vaccination rates.
Fortunately, AMA’s viewpoint is not shared by the majority of physicians who work alongside our nation’s pharmacists, who are the medication experts on patient care teams, and who improve the health care of our nation’s and the world’s patients every day.
We know from CDC’s data that since HHS authorized pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19, seasonal influenza, and other vaccines, that more Americans received their vaccinations at their local pharmacies than any other health care provider or site of care. Pharmacists provided two of every three COVID-19 vaccine doses and provided more than 20,000 COVID-19 testing sites nationwide. A total of 70% of those vaccinations were in areas with moderate to severe social vulnerability, and in medically underserved communities where there is no physician within miles or available during non-office hours. Moreover, the pharmacy response helped relieve the overwhelming pressure on physicians dealing with historic patient loads.
Sadly, AMA’s description of H.R. 7213 is inaccurate and, ironically, includes the very language that it says needs to be included: “that the pharmacist can only provide the services included in the bill according to state scope of practice laws.”
Simply put, this legislation allows pharmacists to continue doing what they are already trained to do according to state scope of practice law—including critical COVID-19 services that have saved thousands of lives and billions of dollars during a national pandemic.
If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that a true "team approach" to health care means not blocking health practitioners from delivering critical health care services to patients and communities, many in underserved communities, across America, when they have demonstrated the ability to do so safely and effectively.
Now, more than ever, it is time to recognize pharmacists for all they have done, and all they can do, to keep our country safe, and help us avoid or manage the next pandemic—not block these health care professionals from serving to the full extent of their training, practice, and license.
APhA is the only organization advancing the entire pharmacy profession. Our expert staff and strong volunteer leadership, including many experienced pharmacists, allow us to deliver vital leadership to help pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians find success and satisfaction in their work and advocate for changes that benefit them, their patients, and their communities. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.