Arlington, Va. – The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592) was reintroduced on Friday, January 20, with the bipartisan original co-sponsorship of nearly one-quarter of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate bill (S. 109) was re-introduced on January 12. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) strongly backs the legislation.
Pharmacists remain among the most highly trusted professionals. That, combined with their extensive education and accessibility, create tremendous opportunities for patient care.
“NACDS thanks for their leadership Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) – the lead sponsors of the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act in the House,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. “NACDS appreciates all of the 108 Representatives who have signed onto the legislation as original cosponsors. The work already is underway to build on the momentum that was started in the last Congress, to accelerate the campaign to enhance the quality, accessibility and affordability of patient care through pharmacist-provided services.
“NACDS members operate pharmacies in each and every Congressional District, and we look forward to telling their story as the face of neighborhood healthcare. Pharmacy’s story resonates in communities throughout the nation, where pharmacists are relied on heavily and can be leveraged even more for the benefit of Medicare patients.”
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 with such strong support in the House and with the co-sponsorship of more than one-quarter of the Senate.
More information is available 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.