WASHINGTON, DC – As Congress prepares to confirm a new health secretary, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is pleased that consideration is being given to the role of pharmacists in helping to improve our nation’s health care system and the care provided to patients. Representative Tom Price (R-GA), President Donald Trump’s HHS secretary nominee, fielded a number of health care questions during his nomination hearing and in questions for record, including queries about better utilizing pharmacists to provide care in areas where there are provider shortages. Senators also raised other issues of importance to pharmacists in their questions to Rep. Price, including restricted pharmacy networks, direct and indirect remuneration fees, radiopharmaceuticals and drug pricing.
In response to a question from Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) about his support of pharmacists having key roles in increasing patients’ access to health care in rural and underserved areas, Rep. Price expressed an openness to and an understanding of the role of pharmacists in helping underserved patients receive care.
“Paying pharmacists in underserved areas to engage in certain medical services could work well in those states where pharmacists have such licensure,” said Rep. Price.
Earlier this month, the Senate and the House of Representatives reintroduced the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (S. 109/ H.R 592), which would provide Medicare beneficiary access to those clinical services that pharmacists are capable of providing. The legislation seeks to increase patient access to health care by enabling pharmacists to provide patient care services consistent with their education, training and license in medically underserved communities.
Today, millions of Americans lack adequate access to primary health care and the demand is expected to worsen in coming years. Over the next two decades, the number of Medicare enrollees is expected to grow from roughly 50 million to over 80 million. In the face of primary health care provider shortages, pharmacists are conveniently accessible health care professionals who, in coordination and collaboration with other health care team providers, are capable of playing a greater role in the delivery of health care services.
Pharmacists offer a broad array of services beyond the safe distribution of medication, such as education, prevention and general wellness. Examples of these services include seasonal and lifespan immunizations; medication reviews to assess safety, effectiveness, interactions and adherence; care management and counseling for disease states such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; and smoking cessation counseling.
“We couldn’t be more pleased that the Senate and Congressman Price, like our nation’s 300,000 pharmacists and the patients they serve, recognize the value pharmacists bring to our health care system and the importance of the care they provide,” said Thomas E. Menighan, APhA Executive Vice President and CEO.
About the American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 63,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.