Bipartisan Legislation Reintroduced to Improve Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Healthcare Services

Bipartisan Legislation Reintroduced to Improve Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Healthcare Services

Last week saw the reintroduction of the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592) in the US House of Representatives. The legislation, which was previously introduced in the 114(th) session of Congress, will improve patient access to health care through pharmacists and their patient care services.

Sponsors of the bill include Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Tom Reed (R-NY) and Ron Kind (D-WI). The cosponsors serve on the committees of jurisdiction that oversee the bill and will play an integral role in passage of the legislation. The new legislation was reintroduced with a total of 107 cosponsors.

“Pharmacists play an important role in our rural communities, and our senior citizens should not have to travel for basic services when their neighborhood pharmacist is already licensed to help them,” said Representative Guthrie. “By allowing Medicare to reimburse pharmacists, seniors will have more immediate access to health care in medically underserved areas. I was proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to help our Medicare patients.”

Earlier this month, the companion legislation was reintroduced in the Senate. Sponsors of the Senate bill include Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

While most Members of Congress, who supported the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act have returned in the 115(th) Congress, there are 63 new members in the House and Senate who need to be educated about the many services pharmacists provide within their scope of practice beyond the safe distribution of medication.

“The American Pharmacists Association is pleased that this important legislation, which will increase patient access to pharmacists’ services, has now been reintroduced in both the House and Senate,” said Thomas E. Menighan, APhA Executive Vice President and CEO. “APhA has already begun outreach to both new and returning members of Congress and is excited for the opportunity to build upon the momentum achieved over the last several years.”

APhA is a member of the Patient Access to Pharmacists Care Coalition (PAPCC) – a multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary initiative that is comprised of organizations representing patients, pharmacists, and pharmacies, as well as other interested stakeholders. The coalition’s primary goal is to improve patient access to pharmacists’ services in medically underserved communities consistent with state scope of practice laws.

APhA and the PAPCC led a campaign in support of identical legislation introduced in the last session of Congress, which resulted in 296 cosponsors of H.R. 592 and 51 cosponsors of the Senate’s companion bill, S.314.

(Source: American Pharmacists Association)