APhA Tells House Subcommittee How Pharmacists Can Improve Medicare Program

WASHINGTON, DC – In feedback provided recently to the United States House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health related to a hearing on legislation to improve and sustain the Medicare program, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) cited pharmacists as a valuable, but often overlooked, member of the health care team.

“While a total solution will take everyone working together -- including health care stakeholders, patients, and government -- pharmacists, as the medication experts and health care professionals many patients see the most, are an underutilized health care resource,” said Thomas Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, APhA Executive Vice President and CEO.

Unfortunately, pharmacists are not considered health care providers under Medicare Part B, so Medicare beneficiaries do not have access to many health care services that pharmacists can provide. The House and Senate have introduced legislation, known as the H.R. 592/S. 314 Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act , that would provide access to and coverage of pharmacists’ patient care services under Medicare Part B in medically underserved communities.

“Millions of Americans lack access to health care and with nearly 86% of Americans living within five miles of a pharmacy, pharmacists are well positioned to help improve patient access and quality while decreasing costs – which is not only good for patients, but also for the health care system in general,” Menighan noted.

Pharmacists, known widely for their role in the safe distribution of prescription medications, are now providing a broader spectrum of patient care services, including conducting health and wellness screenings, managing chronic diseases, providing medication management, facilitating care transitions and administering immunizations.

Pharmacists’ education and training has supported this shift to providing patient care services with all graduates now earning a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. Pharmacists in 48 states and the District of Columbia are allowed to enter into collaborative practice agreements with a physician or another prescriber, allowing pharmacists to play an expanded role in the delivery of health care services.

“Medicare Part B recognition of pharmacists and their services is a commonsense solution to help improve and sustain the Medicare program,” Menighan added. “The strong support for the role of the pharmacist in increasing Medicare beneficiary access to health care is evident as over 60% of the House and over 40% of the Senate support legislation to cover pharmacists’ patient care services.”

To learn more about the legislation and to see how you can help, go to www.pharmacistsprovidecare.com .

CONTACT: Chad Clinton

202.429.7558; cclinton@aphanet.org

About the American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 63,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com .

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