Coalition of Health Groups Push for Pharmacist Provider Status

August 7, 2020

In an open letter, several health organizations urged the Trump Administration and Congress to recognize pharmacists as medical providers.

Several health organizations are urging the Trump Administration and Congress to recognize pharmacists as medical providers so they can provide more coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) services, such as testing and the administration of a vaccine when it becomes available.1

The National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention and a coalition of more than 20 other groups representing patients, the medically underserved, and diverse health care providers sent a letter1 to the bipartisan Congressional leadership and the Trump Administration asking them to take “action necessary for more pharmacies to ramp up patients’ access to COVID‐19 testing and to help prevent delays in giving vaccines when they become available,” the National Forum said in a press release.2

Despite being authorized to order and administer COVID‐19 tests, pharmacists still have no reliable way to be paid for these services, the National Forum said.1

Related: New Hampshire Passes Bill Allowing Pharmacist-Provided COVID-19 Vaccinations

“This effectively excludes too many Americans from ready access to testing programs that could be implemented by nearby and trusted pharmacists. Formally designating pharmacists as ‘providers’ under Medicare will fix this problem—and prevent a similar problem that threatens vaccine deployment,” the organization said in a press release.2

The Coalition said Congress should issue emergency pharmacist provider status under Medicare Part B to provide COVID-19 and influenza testing and vaccinations.1

“As the number of COVID‐19 cases spike in certain communities across the country and the flu season approaches, the opportunity cannot be missed to ramp up patient access to testing and immunizations,” the Coalition wrote.1

“Evidence suggests pharmacists have more opportunities to interact with patients in the community than other providers, however, if action is not taken, the country may not be able to leverage these critical access points to testing and immunizations,” they added.1

The groups represent more than 200 million Americans who have conditions that leave them particularly at risk to COVID‐19. They include: American Association of Heart Failure Nurses, American Kidney Fund, Association of Black Cardiologists, Global Liver Institute, HealthHIV, International Cancer Advocacy Network, and the Lupus and Allied Diseases Association.1

NACDS, NCPA, and other pharmacy organizations have also pushed for pharmacists to receive medical provider status.

“Congress should recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers and remove barriers to expand testing by pharmacists, as well as promote immunization authority and ensure pharmacists are reimbursed for the health care services they provide,” NCPA said recently in a press release.

References

1. National Forum. Open Letter to Congress to Provide COVID-19 Testing. August 6, 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.nationalforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Open-Letter-to-Congress-to-Expand-Access-to-C-19-Testing-Final.pdf.

2. Patients, consumers, the underserved, healthcare providers and public health call on Congress to fix a missing link so pharmacies can ramp up COVID testing and prepare for vaccinations. News Release. National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention; August 6, 2020. Accessed August 7, 2020. https://www.nationalforum.org/patients-consumers-the-underserved-healthcare-providers-and-public-health-call-on-congress-to-fix-a-missing-link-so-pharmacies-can-ramp-up-covid-testing-and-prepare-for-vaccinations/.