APhA House of Delegates passes policy addressing access to pharmacist-provided services
During APhA’s annual meeting held in San Antonio, TX, March 17 to 21, 2022, APhA’s House of Delegates introduced and passed an urgent new business item, which addressed the American Medical Association’s policies related to pharmacists’ scope of practice.
“APhA’s policy calls on the American Medical Association (AMA) to join dozens of other health care organizations who recognize and support pharmacists providing essential patient care such as testing and immunization, which has been and will be so important throughout this pandemic and beyond,” said an APhA press release about the recently passed policy.
The policy is a response to recent public statements by AMA on the Biden Administration’s “Test to Treat” COVID-19 plan. That plan would allow individuals with COVID-19 symptoms to go to select pharmacies for a COVID-19 test, and if positive, receive a prescription for and be dispensed an antiviral COVID-19 drug.
After the administration’s announcement, AMA came out with a statement that disapproved of the plan, saying “…establishing pharmacy‐based clinics as one stop shopping for COVID-19 testing and treatments is extremely risky.”
However, physicians and other health professionals know that pharmacists are the medication experts. There are no other health care professionals with more extensive training in medication use and safety than pharmacists. Pharmacists provide patient care services related to medications by testing, treating, immunizing, and educating patients; managing medication therapies; and providing consultative advice and information to other health care professionals.
“Pharmacists have exceedingly demonstrated their value to patients during the pandemic,” said Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, APhA’s senior vice president of pharmacy practice and government affairs. “It’s time to work together, break down barriers, and focus on the patient as a health care team.”
“AMA’s policies directly conflict with contemporary standards of practice and pharmacists’ extensive training and expertise. These policies impede the ability of health care professionals to work together to address health equity and provide accessible care to vulnerable populations,” stated APhA in the press release. “The pandemic has highlighted the tremendous health disparities in our nation, and pharmacists are able to directly address these disparities among socially disadvantaged and underserved communities.”
The exact APhA’s House of Delegates policy statements that were passed during APhA’s annual meeting include:
1. APhA opposes policies and practices by the American Medical Association (AMA) and other professional organizations that inhibit interprofessional care, patient access to pharmacist-provided care, and health equity.
2. APhA calls on the American Medical Association (AMA) to rescind its policies opposing expanded scopes of practice for pharmacists.
3. APhA adamantly supports the continuation and expansion of collaborative patient care models among pharmacists, physicians, and other health care professionals to improve patient access to care, health equity, and health outcomes.