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Provider status legislation co-sponsored by 108 House Representatives
WASHINGTON – A little more than one week following its reintroduction in the Senate, provider status legislation is again being entertained in the House. On Monday Reps. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., Ron Kind, D-Wis., Tom Reed, R-N.Y., along with 104 of their colleagues, introduced the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R.592), which will make it easier for Medicare patients in underserved communities to receive care.
The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive basic care such as immunizations, diabetes management, blood pressure screenings and routine checks from pharmacists. The bill reached impressive levels of bipartisan support in the prior Congress, with half of the Senate and two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives co-sponsoring the measure. The bill was reintroduced in the new Congress with strong support in the House and with the co-sponsorship of more than one-quarter of the Senate.
"There is currently no avenue for Medicare to directly reimburse pharmacists for providing this care," the House Representatives stated in a release.
"The work already is underway to build on the momentum that was started in the last Congress, to accelerate the campaign to enhance the quality, accessibility and affordability of patient care through pharmacist-provided services," stated Steven Anderson, president and CEO for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. "Pharmacy’s story resonates in communities throughout the nation, where pharmacists are relied on heavily and can be leveraged even more for the benefit of Medicare patients.”
“Pharmacists are highly-accessible, clinically-trained medication experts who can improve health outcomes and reduce overall costs,” added Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “We hope the common-sense, bicameral, bipartisan legislation, which also generated a lot of support in the previous Congress, can pass both chambers and make it to President Trump’s desk for his signature.”
“For many Kentuckians, the nearest pharmacy is much closer to them than the nearest doctor,” Guthrie noted. “Our senior citizens should not have to travel for basic services when their neighborhood pharmacist is already licensed to help them. By allowing Medicare to reimburse pharmacists, seniors will have more immediate access to health care.”
“In rural areas like many I represent, access to a primary care doctor can be challenging,” added Butterfield. “In these cases, individuals often turn to pharmacists to provide wellness testing, help to manage chronic disease, administer immunizations, and help to reduce hospital admissions.”
[In what may be a serendipitous turn of events, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week issued a report outlining the disparities between medically underserved communities in rural areas vs. their urban center counterparts.]