Pharmacy champions in Congress: Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)

Hub on Policy and Advocacy

This profile of Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) is part of an occasional series in Pharmacy Today on Members of Congress who are champions of pharmacy. Guthrie, along with Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Todd Young (R-IN), on March 11, 2014, introduced legislation to amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to enable patient access to, and coverage for, Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities (H.R. 4190).

Guthrie serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care policy, and on the House Committee for Education and the Workforce. Following are Today’s questions and his responses from a recent e-mail interview:

What do you find most compelling about H.R. 4190?

We currently see a shortage of health care professionals across the country and across the spectrum of care. It is important that all practitioners are able to work to their potential and that patients have access to necessary providers. By giving patients greater access to some of these preventive services, it could save the system significant dollars in the future.

Why did you introduce H.R. 4190?

I thought it was important to provide Medicare reimbursement for these allowable services. By reimbursing pharmacists for these services, it will offer patients in underserved areas a greater access to care.

Why do you think “many patients view pharmacists as a critical member of their health care team”?

Pharmacists do far more than dispense drugs. They are the frontline provider for many patients and the first person [patients] ask when they face minor health maladies.

Where does your appreciation for pharmacists and pharmacy come from? 

I see in my own community how important pharmacists are for the patients they serve. My family relies on our pharmacist for advice, answers, and care when we need it most, and I know millions of Americans also have that same relationship with their pharmacist.

What can our readers do to assist you in passing this legislation?

Call their Congressman and urge their office to support the bill. Hearing directly from constituents on legislation is the best way to get a Member of Congress’s attention, and garnering widespread support for the bill will help move it forward.