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Bucshon, Members Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Seniors’ Health Care Options

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Reps. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) and Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) introduced the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act. The members released the following statements:


“Seniors in Indiana’s 8th Congressional District and in communities across the country have come to rely on the critical care and services that pharmacists provide,” said Dr. Bucshon.“The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act will help ensure that Hoosier pharmacists have the ability to continue to provide the care that they are already licensed to provide and that their communities need, and I am proud to help give them that support.”


“While I applaud the end of the Public Health Emergency, we must evaluate what policy changes made a positive impact on patient care,” said Rep. Smith. “Pharmacists are already trusted partners in seniors’ care, which is why we should allow Medicare to permanently reimburse for pharmacist-administered testing, vaccinating, and delivering of medications for common respiratory illnesses. This bill would expand seniors’ options for care while respecting existing state law, and I thank my colleagues for partnering with me on this important legislation.” 


“During the pandemic, pharmacists demonstrated their immeasurable value providing care to communities big and small,” said Rep. Schneider. “We need to build on these lessons and ensure pharmacists are able to continue providing care and receiving reimbursement for services related to COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and strep throat. I’m proud to be working on this important initiative with my Republican colleague on the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Adrian Smith.”


“Over the course of the pandemic, the immense strain on our health care system exacerbated existing inequalities in care.” said Congresswoman Matsui. “In my district and across the country, pharmacists stepped up to meet the challenge, playing an essential role in meeting people where they are at and getting care and services to underserved communities. The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act would ensure that Medicare patients can continue to access these critical services well into the future.”


“Pharmacists are among the most trusted and accessible health care professionals in the country,” said Rep. Carter. “This important, bipartisan legislation will preserve that relationship by ensuring coverage at the pharmacy counter for Medicare patients battling COVID-19, the flu, and other respiratory diseases.” 


“I am honored to join my colleagues in introducing legislation that will provide millions of Americans with accessible healthcare,” said Congresswoman Harshbarger. “As a pharmacist, I understand the critical front-line role that our nation’s pharmacies play in providing healthcare to those living in senior, rural, and medically underserved communities across the country. Under the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act, local pharmacies across Tennessee will continue to be a go-to, trusted source of quality care and support for their patients.”


The legislation is supported by the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition. Coalition members include the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), Abbott, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Health Mart, Kroger, McKesson, Medicine Shoppe, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), Walgreens, and Walmart. The coalition released the following statement on the legislation: 


“We applaud Rep. Adrian Smith, Rep. Brad Schneider, Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D., Rep. Doris Matsui, Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Rep. Diana Harshbarger, and their bipartisan colleagues for introducing legislation that will ensure seniors can continue to access essential services from pharmacists to protect and manage their health,” said the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition, a group representing pharmacists and community pharmacies of all sizes serving millions of patients daily across the U.S. “This bipartisan bill recognizes that pharmacists are a trusted, reliable, and accessible health care provider for Medicare beneficiaries and empowers pharmacists in all settings to continue to care for vulnerable senior communities – particularly those in rural and underserved areas across our country,” the Coalition added


The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act would continue Medicare coverage of pharmacist-administered tests for common respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), strep throat, and COVID-19. It would also allow pharmacists to prescribe treatments when warranted by testing and administer vaccinations for these illnesses when available. These flexibilities were provided during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), and are set to expire on May 11, 2023 when the PHE ends. The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act would not preempt existing state law. 


Original cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Bilirakis (R-FL), Blumenauer (R-OR), Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Peters (D-CA), and Sewell (D-AL). 


Read the bill here.