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Pharmacy News

Dr Marie Sartain
/ Categories: APhA News

New bill would ensure patient access to essential services by pharmacists

On March 24, Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), Congressman David B. McKinley (R-WV), Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), and Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) introduced the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would allow Medicare patients to continue to receive treatment from pharmacists for pandemic-related health services and would permit pharmacists to respond to ongoing and future public health crises.

“Pharmacists have been essential providers in rural and underserved communities during this pandemic, providing essential care and services where they are the only accessible health care provider,” said Theresa Tolle, BSPharm, FAPhA, APhA president, in a press statement. “This legislation will ensure that millions of patients in communities across the country will continue to receive health care services from pharmacists, alleviating gaps in patient care and advancing health equity.”

Specifically, the new legislation would

  • Add pharmacists as eligible providers for Medicare Part B beneficiaries of pharmacy- and pharmacist-provided services related to the COVID-19 pandemic and specific infectious diseases, such as testing (for COVID-19, flu, respiratory syncytial virus, and strep throat), treatment (for COVID-19, flu, and strep throat), and vaccinations (for COVID-19 and flu)
  • Prepare for future emergencies by creating a mechanism to establish Medicare coverage and payment for pharmacy- and pharmacist-provided services when there is a public health need, such as during a public health emergency or similar event
  • Authorize the HHS secretary to identify services as needed, including those needed to close gaps in health equity
  • Be limited to state scope of practice or incident to physician’s services, or more broadly if provided under a PREP Act declaration
  • Enable pharmacists across the country to provide services to Medicare beneficiaries in order to address COVID-19 and other pressing health needs in all areas of the country

The legislation, H.R. 7213, was spearheaded by APhA in partnership with the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition.

Please see APhA’s press release for more information.

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