Consider pharmacists and their services in Medicare and Medicaid reform, groups tell Trump

APhA and other pharmacy organizations letter advocate for the value of pharmacists and their services

APhA and other pharmacy organizations have signed onto a letter urging Washington’s incoming administration and congressional leadership to protect Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries’ health by enacting federal provider status legislation and allowing them to receive care from the pharmacy of their choice, among other recommendations. The letter is addressed to President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

The letter emphasizes that access to pharmacists’ services is shown to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs associated with untreated conditions. The associations expressed strong support for federal legislation that maximizes patient access to pharmacists’ services as critical to patients living in medically underserved areas. The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act provides Medicare Part B beneficiaries living in medically underserved communities access to pharmacist-provided care. The bill will be reintroduced after the new Congress convenes in January.

“We support federal legislation that would allow Medicare Part B to utilize pharmacists to their full capability by providing underserved beneficiaries with services not currently reaching them. This legislation is not only a priority for our nation’s pharmacists, it is critical to our patients living in communities in which there are not enough providers to meet their health care needs,” APhA, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and the National Community Pharmacists Association state in the letter.

“Additionally, this important legislation would lead not only to reduced overall health care costs, but also to increased access to health care services and improved health care quality, all of which is vital to ensuring a strong Medicare program,” they continue.

With the new presidential administration and Congress expected to consider alterations to federal health care programs, including the Affordable Care Act, the organizations call attention to the dramatic health and spending consequences of medication issues and tout pharmacists’ ability to mitigate them. Medication-related problems, including poor adherence, cost the nation approximately $290 billion annually—13% of total health care expenditures—and lead to health complications, emergency room visits, hospital stays, and other costly and preventable outcomes.

“The importance of medication-related services and maintaining access to community pharmacists for the Medicare and Medicaid populations cannot be overstated. Improving medication adherence can help Congress achieve its goals of better managing care for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries while lowering the overall costs of health care,” the letter says.

For more information about APhA’s advocacy on behalf of legislation to recognize pharmacists and their services in Medicare Part B or to get involved, visit www.pharmacistsprovidecare.com.