APhA Pushes for Pharmacist Provider Status to Expand COVID-19 Testing

July 27, 2020

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) urged Congress to take immediate action to expand coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing services by granting pharmacists temporary provider status.

In a letter to Congressional leaders, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) urged Congress to take immediate action to expand coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing services by granting pharmacists temporary provider status.1

The next Congressional COVID-19 pandemic relief package should allow pharmacists to obtain temporary provider status in Medicare Part B, APhA said in the letter. The organization also said pharmacists must be reimbursed for flu testing and immunization.

"We are writing to request that Congress take immediate action to address the urgent need to expand COVID-19 testing services for Americans during the pandemic by passing legislation recognizing pharmacists as providers of COVID-19 and influenza testing and immunization services,” APhA said.1 “Despite actions made by the Administration to ease regulatory burden on pharmacists testing for COVID-19, unfortunately a statutory barrier still exists preventing widespread uptake of these services, including for those in rural and underserved areas from accessing this important public health service.”

Related: FIP Advocates for Expanding Pharmacists' Roles in Immunization Globally

Authorizing pharmacists to obtain provider status in Medicare Part B would allow pharmacists and pharmacies to bill Medicare directly for testing and immunization services, APhA said.1 “Unfortunately, without a reliable and clear avenue to pay pharmacists for their services, including patient assessment, specimen collection, performing the test, interpreting the results, and reporting the results to the patient and appropriate authorities, the public health goal of widespread and accessible testing for COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial viruses in communities cannot be achieved,” the group said.

In a statement, APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Scott J. Knoer, MS, PharmD, said that other health care professionals should support pharmacists in this endeavor.2

“We are calling on all healthcare providers who know that including pharmacists in the next COVID-19 package is the right thing to do and to take action,” Knoer said.2 “Physicians, pharmacists, and all providers must work together for optimal medication therapy and patient safety. We all know that outcomes improve, lives are saved, and costs are contained when the entire health care team is involved.”

References:

1. APhA Recommendations on Ways to Maximize the Use of Pharmacists to Prevent, Treat, Test and Respond to Coronavirus. APhA; July 24, 2020. Accessed July 27, 2020. https://www.pharmacist.com/sites/default/files/files/practice/07-2020/apha-letter-to-house-and-senate-leadership-regarding-covid-testing-july-2020.pdf

2. APhA urges Congress to authorize pharmacists’ COVID testing and immunization services under Medicare in next pandemic bill. News release. APhA; July 24, 2020. Accessed July 27, 2020.https://www.pharmacist.com/press-release/apha-urges-congress-authorize-pharmacists-covid-testing-and-immunization-services