Pharmacy Groups Push for Pharmacy-Centered Assistance in HEALS Act

July 29, 2020

Several pharmacy organizations have stressed that the next coronavirus economic relief package should include provisions directed toward pharmacies.

Although pharmacy organizations praised several provisions within the first version of the upcoming coronavirus economic relief package, they also found that essential pharmacy-related elements were missing.

The $1 trillion Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act would provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), offer tax credits to businesses to offset costs of safety precautions, and protect essential small businesses from opportunistic lawsuits, said National Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, in a news release.1,2

Policymakers should swiftly negotiate a final package that maintains these provisions while also ensuring hazard pay for pharmacists and allowing pharmacist-administered tests and vaccines for the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to Hoey.

Scott J. Knoer, PharmD, executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association, was “disappointed” that the HEALS Act does not yet include language designating pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B for COVID-19 and influenza testing and immunization.

“This language would allow Congress to dramatically expand COVID-19 testing and immunization by including the most accessible health care providers in the nation: pharmacists,” Knoer said in a news release.3 “Now is the time for an all-in push for the inclusion of temporary pharmacist provider status in Medicare Part B.”

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is also committed to pushing Congress to recognize pharmacists as health care providers under Medicare for services related to COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory viruses.

“Otherwise, an obvious access point for COVID-19 testing services remains underfunded and underutilized. This cannot remain the case while Congress has authorized more than $6 trillion and counting for other items under the COVID-19 umbrella,” NACDS said in a July 22 letter to Congressional leaders.4

References:

  1. Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. July 27, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020. https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/TJS05MAH.PDF
  2. NCPA urges swift passage of COVID-19 relief, aid for essential businesses. NCPA; July 28, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020. https://ncpa.org/newsroom/news-releases/2020/07/28/ncpa-urges-swift-passage-covid19-relief-aid-essential-businesses
  3. APhA expresses disappointment over absence of temporary provider status language in HEALS Act. APhA; July 28, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020. https://www.pharmacist.com/press-release/apha-expresses-disappointment-over-absence-temporary-provider-status-language-heals
  4. NACDS open letter to Congress. NACDS; July 22, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020. https://www.nacds.org/pdfs/government/2020/Open-Letter-COVID-Testing-NACDS-7-22-2020.pdf