The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act seeks to ensure that seniors in rural and underserved communities have access to care and services from pharmacists for common infectious diseases.
The Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition is applauding 100 bipartisan members of the US House of Representatives who have announced their support for H.R. 1770, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act.1 The bill aims to ensure that older individuals have continued access to essential services provided by pharmacists.
The legislation, introduced in March 2023, was spearheaded by Congressman Adrian Smith (R-Nebraska), Congressman Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana), Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-California), and pharmacist Members Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Georgia) and Diana Harshbarger (R-Tennessee).
“The Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition applauds the 100 Representatives—and more than a dozen of their colleagues in the Senate—for recognizing the need to ensure Medicare beneficiaries maintain access to essential care and services provided by pharmacists and urges Congress to seize this opportunity and pass H.R. 1770,” the organization said in a release.1 “Pharmacists are frontline health care professionals in every community, uniquely positioned to offer accessible and timely interventions to seniors for common infectious diseases.”
H.R. 1770’s companion legislation, S. 2477, was introduced in the Senate in July by Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia). These bills are critical to ensure that seniors in rural and underserved communities have access to care and services from pharmacists for common infectious diseases.
Under the legislation, Medicare beneficiaries would maintain access to key pharmacist services, including testing for COVID-19, flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and strep throat; treatment for COVID-19, flu, and strep throat; and vaccinations for COVID-19 and flu.2 It would also create Medicare Part B direct reimbursement mechanisms for these services.
“I’m proud to join my House colleagues in championing this bipartisan legislation to protect seniors from preventable illnesses like COVID-19, flu, and RSV,” Rep. Smith, lead sponsor of H.R. 1770, said in a release.1 “We cannot afford to wait to allow Medicare to reimburse for essential pharmacist-administered testing, treatment, and vaccination services for common respiratory illnesses and recognize the critical role pharmacists play in improving health outcomes in their communities.”
According to data shared by the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition, interventions provided by pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic saved $450 billion in health care costs and averted over 1 million COVID-19 deaths, as well as 8 million hospitalizations.1 Pharmacists are also well positioned to aid in the health care work force shortage due to their accessibility, as 9 in 10 Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy.
H.R. 1770 is supported by more than 190 organizations, including the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), Good Neighbor Pharmacy, CVS Health, Walgreens, and Walmart.
“During the pandemic, pharmacists demonstrated their immeasurable value providing care to communities big and small,” Rep. Schneider, champion sponsor of H.R. 1770, said in a release.1 “We need to build on these lessons and ensure pharmacists are able to continue providing care and receiving reimbursement for services related to COVID-19, influenza, RSV, and strep throat.”