CMS Decision Could Limit Patient Access to COVID-19 Oral Antivirals

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An FDA decision regarding Merck's COVID-19 oral antiviral is imminent, but a recent CMS decision could limit patient access.

With an FDA decision imminent regarding Merck's COVID-19 oral antiviral, Pharmacy Times spoke with Tom Kraus, JD, vice president of government relations at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, about how a recent decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) could limit patient access.

Kraus explained that rather than requiring payment for pharmacists providing testing, patient assessment, ordering, prescribing, and dispensing of COVID-19 oral antivirals, CMS said payment for these services is only encouraged. Because many pharmacies are already strained amid the other responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding other responsibilities without payment could force some pharmacies to consider which services they can afford to provide.

Kraus also emphasized that if pharmacists' provider status were established on a federal level, finding complicated workarounds for payment would not be an issue. Ultimately, Kraus said, Congress should step in and designate provider status for pharmacists.

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