Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act Moves Forward

Legislation will enable seniors in medically underserved communities to access pharmacist patient care services.

Legislation will enable seniors in medically underserved communities to access pharmacist patient care services.

The American Pharmacy Association (APhA) announced that this week that The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act gained important headway with a majority of members of the US House of Representatives in support of the legislation.

The new legislation presented earlier this year will enable seniors in medically underserved communities to access pharmacist patient care services that are allowed by state scope of practice laws through Medicare Part B coverage. The companion bill in the US Senate has 31 co-sponsors.

Of the 435 House of Representatives members, 219 signed on as sponsors and co-sponsors to the bill.

“This is a crucial moment in the public debate on how to improve health care access and how to reduce America’s health care costs,” said APhA Executive Vice President and CEO, Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA. “National surveys show Americans believe pharmacists are integral members of their health care team. Now, the majority of the US House has stated that they agree.”

The bill seeks to increase access and improve quality by enabling pharmacists to provide patient care services consistent with their education, training, and license. Pharmacists provide a broad variety of services that include chronic disease management, medication management, immunization administration, health and wellness testing, and working in and partnering with hospitals and health systems to advance health and wellness that help reduce hospital re-admissions.

Millions of Americans lack access to sufficient care and this trend will only continue to worsen as demand increases. Over the next 15 years, the number of Medicare enrollees is predicted to increase from 55 million to over 80 million. Additionally, millions of people are gaining health coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

“There is need for improving access to health care and for most Americans, pharmacists are already on the front lines of their health care,” Menighan said. “The primary goal of the bill is to expand access for those seniors in medically underserved communities and our Nation’s 300,000 pharmacists stand ready to help.”