After only 2 weeks of being sworn into the 114th Congress, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), BSPharm, was profiled in a widely-read Capitol Hill publication about his legislative priorities. At the top of that list: provider status recognition.
Carter, the only pharmacist currently elected to Congress, told CQ Roll Call that he plans to push for APhA’s top priority—legislation that would allow patient access to, and coverage for, Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities. H.R. 4190 gained 123 bipartisan cosponsors in the last Congress and a new bill is expected to be introduced into the new Congress soon.
Carter also told CQ Roll Call that he plans on joining both the House Community Pharmacy Caucus and the GOP Doctors Caucus. These are in addition to the Education and the Workforce and Oversight and Government Reform panels, to which he is already assigned.
Carter has been a pharmacist in Georgia, where he was born and raised, for more than 30 years and has owned and operated independent pharmacies there with his wife. Carter is believed to be the first pharmacist to serve in Congress who owned his own pharmacy.
Carter also voiced his support to CQ Roll Call for legislative action to allow pharmacies in medically underserved areas to participate in Medicare drug plan networks. Currently, some pharmacies are excluded from a plan’s “preferred” network, either forcing seniors to cut ties with the pharmacy they’ve had a long-term relationship with, or in some cases, making them drive long distances to accept a pharmacy that takes their insurance.
“If you’re willing to accept the reimbursement then, you know, you should be allowed to participate,” Carter told CQ Roll Call.
Legislation, Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (H.R. 4577), was introduced last year and garnered bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.