An important piece of legislation was just introduced into the United States (U.S.) House of Representatives – the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act.
If passed, this bipartisan measure would give tens of millions of Medicare patients in medically underserved communities access to the pharmacist-delivered primary health care services they critically need,1 as well as expand and further establish the role of community pharmacists as care providers and essential members of the healthcare team.
And that’s big news for your patients and your practice.
Expanding Medicare Part B
Fortunately, many states already recognize pharmacists as providers and appropriately compensate them for that work. However, Medicare does not, and therefore, does not reimburse pharmacists for clinical services. And while H.R. 2759 would not expand the scope of pharmacist practice, it would allow pharmacists to deliver – and be appropriately reimbursed – for any Medicare Part B services that are already authorized by their respective state laws. These services include: medication management, chronic care management, cholesterol testing, point of care testing, immunization screening and administration, and smoking cessation support – to name a few.
But the bill’s biggest winners would be the Medicare beneficiaries in medically underserved areas who would suddenly and crucially see their access to care greatly expanded.
Pharmacists – part of the patient care team
When pharmacists are included on the patient’s care team – along with doctors, nurses, and other health care providers – better outcomes and significant cost savings are often realized due to limiting trips to the emergency room. More importantly, with nearly 90% of Americans living within five miles of one of the nation’s 88,000 pharmacies, pharmacists are uniquely positioned as the community’s most accessible health care provider. This statistic takes on even greater significance when considering that doctor access is often difficult to procure in rural and medically underserved areas – a designation that shockingly applies to a significant majority of the country!2
Playing an integral role in maintaining and improving community health is nothing new for pharmacists, who are often leveraged to provide clinical services that help the patients live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. For proof, look no further than the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – and specifically the national vaccine response – which has heavily relied on pharmacists to help serve many of the country’s most vulnerable and medically underserved patients, filling in a critical gap in care.
PrescribeWellness – your partner in clinical services
Adding or expanding your practice’s clinical service offerings to your entire patient population is a great way for your pharmacy business to generate additional revenue streams. From chronic care management to COVID-19 vaccinations, the PrescribeWellness solution enables you to identify and recruit patients for an array of clinical services. With patients increasingly turning to pharmacists to receive comprehensive care, now is the time to leverage the PrescribeWellness solution to help you improve patient outcomes, customer loyalty, and pharmacy performance.
Taking action – become an advocate with APhA
While H.R. 2759 is a big step forward in advancing pharmacy practice, it is important that you do your part to keep the momentum going for the pharmacy profession. A great way to do that is by becoming an APhA advocate and to ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to co-sponsor the bill, which will help educate policymakers about the importance of pharmacist-provided patient care services.