That time of year is here. The federal government has begun the process of finalizing the 2021 federal budget for the purpose of passing economic relief for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, recently, the House Committee released the 2021 Budget Resolution, a framework that Congress uses to consider legislation for federal spending. And while this is ordinarily not of too much concern to pharmacists, given the administration’s ambitious $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, we are in a unique political environment that has increased the likelihood that a number of pharmacist-friendly provisions and opportunities will be included in the 2021 federal budget.
More on that in a minute.
First, we want to provide you with a quick overview of the federal budget process – specifically with respect to budget reconciliation.
Bills considered by the Senate usually require 60 votes in order to pass. This is what often allows the minority party in the Senate to block bills from being brought up for consideration through a procedure known as the filibuster. However, when bills are passed through reconciliation, they only require 51 votes in the Senate, and so, a closely divided Congress may opt to use the reconciliation process as a tool to pass substantial policy.
And that is precisely what is happening now with the current administration’s relief plan and the 2021 budget – and it could pose a benefit to you and your patients!
Benefits for the community pharmacist (and patient)
While the American Rescue Plan doesn’t specifically mention pharmacists by name, it will substantially support pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other pharmacy staff in their efforts to help maintain public health and mitigate the spread of disease.
Pharmacy-friendly provisions include:
● $20 billion for a national vaccine program to vaccinate 150 million people in the President’s first 100 days in office
● $50 billion to scale up testing
● Investment in community vaccination sites and mobile vaccination clinics to reach areas where there is inadequate vaccine access
● Hiring 100,000 new public health workers to support COVID-19 response activities
● Strike teams to address outbreaks in long-term care facilities
● Additional funding to community health centers and Indian Health Services (IHS) facilities to address health disparities
● $10 billion to expand domestic manufacturing for personal protective equipment
● Subsidizing the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and expanding tax credits available through the Affordable Care Act
● Investment in behavioral health services
With these additional resources, frontline providers, especially pharmacists – who continue to be the nation’s most accessible healthcare experts – are better equipped to effectively reach and support their communities in these critical times. Pharmacists also continue to be well-positioned to support the developing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to communities throughout the country.
PrescribeWellness COVID-19 vaccination resource center
PrescribeWellness remains committed to keeping you up to date with everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine and continues to offer our frontline providers the opportunity to secure authorized and reliable COVID-19 testing kits through our online purchase form. Additionally, for the latest information on requirements, reporting, and reimbursement related to the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit our new COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center.