Understanding Policy Priorities and Advocacy Opportunities During COVID-19
Why This Matters
How to Advocate for Pharmacy
COVID-19 has changed a lot in the policy landscape, including how pharmacists can be an advocate for the profession. Understanding these changes will help you become a more effective advocate for key priorities during COVID-19.
Permanently expand pharmacists’ immunization authority to order and administer all FDA-approved vaccines for all indicated populations.
- The federal government recognizes that pharmacists can increase access to immunizations during the pandemic when they are allowed to order and administer approved vaccines to patients of all ages.
- Action must be taken to ensure pharmacists can continue to utilize their training and expertise to expand access to immunizations.
- More than 360,000 pharmacists have been trained to administer vaccines across the lifespan and are integral members of the “immunization neighborhood.”
- An additional 4.1 million additional adults were vaccinated in 2013 because states allowed pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine, which resulted in between 81,000-134,000 fewer influenza infections among adults in that year, depending on vaccine effectiveness.
- Make sure you meet the requirements to order and administer childhood and the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines under the new authorities by reviewing APhA's "Authority to Immunize During COVID-19: Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, and Pharmacy Interns" practice resource.
- Review APhA's "Reimbursement for Administration of COVID-19 Vaccine(s) - What We Know" practice resource.
- Take Action Now to urge to urge Congress to designate pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B to ensure pharmacists are reimbursed for immunization services.
- Depending on your state, you may need to contact your state representatives to expand pharmacists’ immunization authority. Visit NASPA’s COVID-19 Vaccines page to see where your state stands.
- Join the Immunizing Pharmacists SIG to be among the first to learn about opportunities to shape pharmacists’ immunization practices through policy and volunteer leadership.
Establish a clear regulatory path to ensure payment for all the necessary and required services for all pharmacists and pharmacies to conduct COVID-19 testing and services (including patient assessment, ordering the test, specimen collection, performing the test, interpreting the results, and reporting the results to the patient and appropriate entities) for all patients.
- Expanding access to care from pharmacists will multiply health care access points. If action is not taken, the country may not be able to leverage these critical access points to testing and immunizations.
- Like physician practices, hospitals, and other health care providers, pharmacists cannot be there for patients without fair and reasonable reimbursement for their services.
- Review APhA's "Authority to Test for COVID-19: Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, and Pharmacy Interns" practice resource.
- Take Action Now to urge Congress to designate pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B to ensure pharmacists are reimbursed for testing services.
- Contact your state representatives to advocate for payment for testing under Medicaid. Visit NASPA’s COVID-19 Testing page to see where your state stands.
- View APhA and NASPA’s "Pharmacy Models for COVID-19 Testing" practice resource for information about how to prepare to ramp up COVID-19 testing and current payment pathways.
Codify the recent COVID-19-related telehealth flexibilities (location requirements, virtual supervision of “incident to” services) and expand enforcement discretion under Medicare and Medicaid, both through regulations and Congressional action, to permit and reimburse pharmacists for providing all services authorized under their state scope of practice the same as in-person services.
- Telehealth is especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the necessity that people remain physically distant from one another to mitigate the spread of the disease.
- With many cities limiting public transportation options, as well as the concerns many people now have with taking public transportation altogether, telehealth provides a way for people to have access to healthcare professionals without having to venture outside of their homes.
- Review APhA’s Telehealth in Your Pharmacy Practice: Using Innovative Technology to Care for Patients During COVID-19 practice resource guide.
- Familiarize yourself with how your state has adjusted Telehealth rules during the pandemic.
- Learn about tangible ways to start integrating Telehealth into your pharmacy practice site.
- Earn CPE credits for expanding your knowledge of the Role of the Telehealth Pharmacist with APhA’s knowledge-based training for pharmacists.
- Join APhA-APPM’s Medication Management SIG to connect with leaders utilizing telehealth across the country and share successful implementation strategies.
- Send examples of how you are using telehealth in your practice and/or telehealth services you would like to be able to provide to Karin Bolte, APhA’s Director of Health Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org, to assist APhA in its advocacy efforts.
Preserve flexibility for pharmacists to compound all necessary medications in shortage under sections 503A and 503B of the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) for hospitalized patients without patient-specific prescriptions to address shortages during a public health emergency.
- Compounding pharmacists are a great, and often underutilized, resource that can help fill in gaps when medications are near shortage levels by anticipating patients’ needs before the shortage occurs.
- In order to prevent the breakdown of supply and demand for certain medications, pharmacists need to have pre-approved authority to compound certain medications before the shortage becomes widespread and backlogged.
- Personalize your message to Congress stating the importance of maintaining compounding flexibilities so that you can anticipate patients’ needs.
- Join APhA–APPM’s Compounding SIG to connect with compounding leaders across the country and share strategies that have been successful.
- Learn about recent compounding flexibilities in APhA’s COVID-19 webinar series that might affect pharmacists like you.
Involve pharmacists in state emergency response planning and coordination, including the request process and distribution plan for personal protective equipment (PPE), ancillary medical supplies, and the Strategic National and state stockpiles.
- Download the Pandemic Planning Backgrounder to learn about key policies that pharmacists can advocate for to respond to pandemics.
Designate pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B to ensure that pharmacists are reimbursed for patient care services, including COVID-19 and influenza services, provided by pharmacists acting within their state scope of practice or as authorized under an emergency declaration with the ability to extend coverage to address future public health emergencies.
- Over 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, making pharmacists the most widely accessible health care providers.
- Pharmacists provide care and services in a wide variety of practice settings in communities across our nation – making them uniquely qualified to reduce clinical burdens and improve patient health.
- Take Action Now: It only takes a few minutes to contact your Members of Congress!