As legislators debate the next stimulus package, pharmacists are expressing dismay that the current language does not include designating pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing and immunization.

Organizations such as the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) have pushed for that language in recent weeks to both further vaccination efforts and ensure that pharmacists can be paid for their work.

“There’s been a lot in the media about pharmacists doing [COVID-19] testing,” said APhA President Michael Hogue, PharmD, in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “However, what’s missing is that we’re asking pharmacists to do it for free. That doesn’t make sense, that’s inequitable.”1

Hogue said provider status is essential for patient access, noting that a huge percentage of patients live within a few miles of a pharmacy. With the coming COVID-19 vaccine and flu season quickly approaching, this access is becoming more important than ever.1 However, the current package being negotiated in Congress does not include a pharmacist provider provision.2

“APhA is disappointed that the HEALS Act, the Senate’s $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus legislative package announced Monday, does not include language designating pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B for COVID-19 and influenza testing and immunization,” said Scott Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP, executive vice president and chief executive officer of APhA, in a statement. “This language would allow Congress to dramatically expand COVID-19 testing and immunization by including the most accessible health care providers in the nation: pharmacists.”2

APhA has encouraged pharmacists and other health care professionals to contact their representatives and advocate for this provider status. The association has created a form that auto-writes an email to congressional representatives.1

“Now is the time for an all-in push for the inclusion of temporary pharmacist provider status in Medicare Part B,” Knoer said in a press release. “Right now, the House and Senate are seeking to reach agreement on their dueling legislative proposals on a tight deadline; the House released its $3 trillion HEROES Act in May.”2

REFERENCES
  1. Pharmacists Advocating for COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Status. Pharmacy Times; July 24, 2020. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/interviews/pharmacists-advocating-for-covid-19-vaccine-provider-status. Accessed July 28, 2020.
  2. APhA Expresses Disappointment Over Absence of Temporary Provider Status Language in HEALS Act [news release]. Email; received July 28, 2020. Accessed July 28, 2020.