The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacy Services legislation was introduced earlier this year in the House of Representatives.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) are applauding the introduction of S. 2477, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (ECAPS), a bipartisan legislative effort spearheaded by Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia).1,2 The goal of this legislation is to ensure that pharmacists can continue providing older individuals with the essential services and care that they have come to rely on pharmacists to receive.
S. 2477 is the Senate version of H.R. 1770, introduced earlier this year by Representative Adrian Smith (R-Nebraska), Representative Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), Representative Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana), Representative Doris Matsui (D-California), and pharmacists Representative Earl “Buddy” R. Carter (R-Georgia) and Representative Diana Harshbarger (R-Tennessee). These bills are crucial in ensuring that individuals in rural and otherwise medically underserved communities can continue enjoying access to care.
According to data shared by the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition—a group that includes stakeholders such as ASHP, APhA, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Kroger, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and Walgreens, among many others—pharmacists are key in keeping senior and rural communities healthy: 77% of community pharmacies serve areas with populations of 50,000 individuals or fewer. And prompt care provided by pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic—an estimated 350 million clinical interventions delivered to over 150 million individuals—"averted over 1 million COVID-19 deaths, 8 million hospitalizations, and $450 billion in health care costs.”
“We commend bipartisan lawmakers for introducing legislation to protect the essential role of pharmacists in delivering vital care and services to America’s seniors,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, ScD, FASHP, in a press release.1 “Pharmacists have been on the frontlines supporting the nation through unprecedented public health challenges. Medicare beneficiaries, including those in rural and underserved communities across the country, have come to rely on pharmacists as critical health care providers. Ensuring Medicare patients can access essential pharmacist services is imperative, and we call on Congress to act swiftly to support this legislation.”
“APhA applauds Senators Thune and Warner for their leadership in the Senate on this issue,” said Michael D. Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, FFIP, executive vice president and CEO of APhA.2 “This bill is an important step towards ensuring seniors, especially those in rural areas, maintain access to essential pharmacist services.”
He continued, “In many rural communities, pharmacists are the only accessible health care provider, and play a critical role in delivering patient services. This bill not only continues that access, but will also help improve patient outcomes and reduce hospitalizations and remove unnecessary costs throughout the health care system. Congress must act, or risk patients being left without that critical access.”
The Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition applauded the introduction of H.R. 1770 earlier this year.3 The organization is also applauding the introduction of S. 2477.4
“Pharmacists are a vital part of the rural health care delivery system, as many older adults in rural areas depend on their pharmacist to help manage multiple prescriptions and conditions,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, said in a press release.4 “The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act will remove barriers for older adults in rural areas to access essential pharmacist services related to respiratory illnesses, which tend to be more fatal for older populations.”