APhA's COVID-19 advocacy efforts focus on maintaining the flexibilities and authorities extended to pharmacists by the federal government, while continuing to advocate for changes that will allow pharmacists to utilize their full expertise to care for patients. The federal government is looking at ways to improve access to care by being more flexible about certain requirements and expanding scope of practice through new authorities during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Our current areas of focus include immunizations, testing, payment, compounding, telehealth, and future pandemic planning.
COVID-19 Advocacy Opportunities
COVID-19 Test to Treat Access
APhA’s analysis of COVID-19 Test to Treat locations, as of May 6, 2022, demonstrates that underserved and vulnerable communities do not have equitable access to care in the current program.
As hospitalization rates and deaths from COVID-19 persist, the need to quickly connect high-risk patients who test positive for COVID-19 to lifesaving treatments remains essential.
Pharmacists can help. Learn more
Pharmacists and pharmacists’ patient care services are not included in key sections of the Social Security Act (SSA), which determines eligibility for health care programs such as Medicare Part B. In the case of Medicare Part B, the omission of pharmacists as listed providers limits Medicare beneficiaries’ access to pharmacists’ services in the outpatient setting. Pharmacists have demonstrated their value while playing a crucial role in COVID-19 pandemic response by being available and accessible as front-line health care professionals. APhA encourages Congress to pass legislation that recognizes pharmacists as providers in Medicare Part B and as integral members of the health care team to provide patients with access to and coverage for our quality patient care services.
Pharmacist and pharmacy payment reform
The pharmacy reimbursement and drug pricing scheme in the U.S. has grown out of control, with misaligned incentives that neither benefit the patient nor lead to better health outcomes. These misalignments are causing pharmacies across the country to shut their doors, leaving patients without access to their local pharmacies. APhA supports transparency and accountability in reimbursement and pricing and is thus concentrating policy efforts to 1) support pharmacists’ ability to focus on patient care and to be appropriately paid for these services and 2) reform pharmacy payment and PBMs’ actions and activities that are disrupting the pharmacy ecosystem. Recent advocacy and legal action led to CMS issuing a final rule that eliminates harmful retroactive direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees.
Learn more about CMS’s rule that ends retroactive DIR fees
Other improvements to Medicare
As scientific innovation leads to medications that are exponentially more complex, we believe that pharmacists, as the medication experts, need to be key players on patient health teams. APhA advocates for the expansion and enhancement of the Medicare Part D Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program. Further, APhA supports CMS’s efforts to increase patient access and choice by requiring Part D plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to contract with any pharmacy willing to accept the PBM’s contractual terms and conditions for network participation (i.e. “any willing pharmacy” requirement). In addition, APhA will continue to advocate for increased transparency regarding Part D plans, including efforts to provide beneficiaries with up-to-date information about actual access standards and cost-sharing information.