ASHP applauds Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Robert Casey (D-PA) for their introduction today of the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (S. 314). The legislation will amend the Social Security Act to recognize pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B, a change that will help address gaps in our nation’s healthcare system by increasing access to pharmacists’ services for patients who live in medically underserved communities.
“We commend the bill’s sponsors for their leadership on this critical issue,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP. “Patients in underserved communities confront significant challenges as they seek quality, cost-effective healthcare. S. 314 will make a tremendous difference to patients who need access to the important services that pharmacists provide.”
S. 314 will recognize licensed pharmacists working within their state pharmacy practice acts to deliver care for patients in federally defined medically underserved communities. The legislation also establishes a mechanism to pay for pharmacist provider services as a percentage of the current physician fee schedule, or pursuant to pharmacist-specific codes as part of that schedule.
The bill is a companion measure to H.R. 592, introduced yesterday by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY.), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Todd Young (R-IN.), and Ron Kind (D-WI). The House legislation was originally introduced in the 113th Congress as H.R. 4190, and gained the bipartisan support of more than 120 cosponsors.
ASHP is an active member of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, a group of more than 25 organizations representing patients, pharmacists, and pharmacies, as well as other interested stakeholders, which is leading efforts to garner support for the bill.
“ASHP looks forward to working with members of Congress, our coalition partners, and other stakeholders in enacting legislation that will recognize pharmacists in all care settings, including hospitals, health systems, and clinics, as providers of these services to some of our nation’s most vulnerable patients,” said Abramowitz.
Pharmacists have comprehensive and unique education and training in the use of medications to treat, manage, and prevent diseases. There is a significant body of evidence showing that pharmacists contribute to improved health outcomes, enhanced patient satisfaction, and lower healthcare costs when they are part of the healthcare team.
ASHP represents pharmacists who serve as patient care providers in acute and ambulatory settings. The organization’s more than 40,000 members include pharmacists, student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. For over 70 years, ASHP has been on the forefront of efforts to improve medication use and enhance patient safety. For more information about the wide array of ASHP activities and the many ways in which pharmacists advance healthcare, visit ASHP’s website, www.ashp.org, or its consumer website, www.safemedication.com.