Arlington, Va. – The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (S. 109) was reintroduced today with the bipartisan original co-sponsorship of more than one-quarter of the U.S. Senate. The return of the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives also is anticipated shortly. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) strongly backs the legislation.
We want today’s bill re-introduction to serve as an acceleration, and not just a continuation, of the campaign to enhance the quality, accessibility and affordability of patient care through pharmacist-provided services.
“NACDS truly appreciates the leadership of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in re-introducing the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act as lead sponsors,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. “NACDS thanks all of the 27 Senators who have made a powerful statement about this legislation by signing on as original cosponsors and sustaining this bill’s momentum from the 114th Congress into the current 115th Congress.
“We consider this bill’s swift and strong re-introduction a credit to these leaders in Congress, a credit to pro-patient and pro-pharmacy advocates, and a credit to the powerful story of pharmacies as the face of neighborhood healthcare. We want today’s bill re-introduction to serve as an acceleration, and not just a continuation, of the campaign to enhance the quality, accessibility and affordability of patient care through pharmacist-provided services.”
The bill would allow underserved Medicare patients to receive certain services from pharmacists, in states in which pharmacists already are permitted to administer the functions. Examples of these services include immunizations; helping seniors manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and asthma; conducting wellness or prevention testing; and helping seniors take their medications correctly and as prescribed. Nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants currently can provide these services through Medicare.
“Pharmacists remain among the most highly trusted professionals. That, combined with their extensive education and accessibility, create tremendous opportunities for patient care,” Anderson said.
To sit for pharmacy Board licensure exams, candidates must have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD), which requires a minimum of six years of professional education. Highly-educated pharmacists are tremendously accessible, with most Americans – 91 percent – living within five miles of a community pharmacy. The trust earned by pharmacists is reflected in their maintenance of the second-place ranking, right behind nurses, in Gallup’s annual Honesty and Ethics survey across diverse professions.
The bill reached impressive levels of bipartisan support in the prior Congress, with half of the Senate and two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives co-sponsoring the measure. It is remarkable that the bill was re-introduced in the new Congress today with already such a significant level of bipartisan support.
More information is available through the “Provider_Status” tag on NACDS.org, as well as on the website of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, a group of organizations representing patients, pharmacists, pharmacies and others. NACDS is a founding member of the Coalition and serves on its Steering Committee.