The National Association of Chain Drug Stores thanked lead House sponsors Brett Guthrie (R., Ky.), G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.), Tom Reed (R., N.Y.) and Ron Kind (D. Wis.), and all 108 representatives who signed on as original cosponsors.
“The work already is under way 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,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson.
“NACDS members operate pharmacies in each and every congressional district, and we look forward to telling their story as the face of neighborhood health care,” added Anderson. “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, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, would allow underserved Medicare patients to receive certain services from pharmacists in states where pharmacists are already permitted to administer the functions. 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 as prescribed. Nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants currently can provide these services through Medicare.
“Pharmacists remain among the most highly trusted professionals.” Anderson said. “That, combined with their extensive education and accessibility, creates tremendous opportunities for patient care.”
Pharmacists are highly accessible, with 91% of Americans living within five miles of a community pharmacy. They have maintained 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 House cosponsoring the measure. It is remarkable that the bill was reintroduced in the new Congress with such strong support in the House and with the cosponsorship of more than one-quarter of the Senate.