ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is hailing collaborative advocacy and policymaking that made further strides for Americans’ health care access in 2023. The Association also is urging state and federal leaders alike to further improve access – and to prevent access rollbacks – in 2024.
NACDS cited the following key developments in 2023:
- In 2023, the Biden Administration extended to December 2024 most of the pharmacy access policies made possible during the COVID-19 pandemic by the temporary use of the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act).
- In 2023, 53 bills enacted across 33 states have led to 121 policy changes consistent with one of these areas: making permanent the pharmacy access made possible by the PREP Act during the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding Americans’ access to other pharmacy services, or establishing or enhancing payment for pharmacy services.
- 41 states now permanently allow pharmacy technicians to administer vaccinations – up from 14 states in September 2021.
NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson said, “Just as the H1N1 outbreak led states to turn to pharmacists for vaccinations 15 years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a need and an opportunity to improve Americans’ access to other vital pharmacy services. The NACDS membership values our work with state partners and other stakeholders to advance policies to provide individuals with the pharmacy services they now rely on and expect.
“Looking forward to 2024, we will advocate that the states continue to update their policies, making the best use of the PREP Act extension which expires at the end of December 2024. Important opportunities for patient health and access to care exist in testing and treatment for an array of illnesses, and in testing and preventive care for HIV. Federally, it remains extremely important to enact the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (H.R. 1770/S. 2477) which would ensure that Americans with Medicare have access to certain pharmacist-provided vaccination, testing, and treatment services allowed under state policies.
“In addition, it must be consistently emphasized that PBM reform is needed to confront pharmaceutical middlemen tactics that are jeopardizing the very viability of pharmacies on which Americans rely.
“Improving Americans’ access to pharmacy services is not a pandemic issue and it is not a partisan issue. It is an issue that is essential to the present and to the future of health and wellness, and the American people see that clearly. Increasingly, federal and state policymakers are seeing that and acting on it, and NACDS will continue to work with our allies to help accelerate and broaden this extremely important work.”
A poll of American adults conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS from October 25-30, 2023, found that:
- 85% say it is easy to access pharmacies – the highest accessibility rating among healthcare professionals and destinations tested.
- 81% say it is important for their state to update its policies to ensure patients permanently have the same access to pharmacy vaccination, testing, and treatment services that were available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 74% support pharmacists testing for and treating common illnesses like flu and COVID-19, and 70% support pharmacists testing for and treating common minor conditions such as strep throat and urinary tract infections.
- 71% support pharmacists administering HIV tests at pharmacies; 65% support pharmacists prescribing preventative medication (called PrEP) to those who are seeking to prevent HIV ahead of potential exposure; 67% support pharmacists prescribing preventative medication (called PEP) to those who have possibly been exposed to HIV.
The poll was conducted from October 25-30, 2023, among a national sample of 10,031 adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.