Survey Finds Older Americans Want Congress to Ensure Access to Care, Services by Pharmacists

Survey results reflect positive sentiments from older adults for the proposed Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act.

The majority of older Americans (82%) want the government to reimburse pharmacists so that they can access testing and treatments for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, according to a survey from the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition released earlier this month.

The survey, which included 1009 adults aged 64 and older, was conducted by John Zogby Strategies, a national consumer and political survey company. Several findings from the survey demonstrate overwhelming support for legislative efforts to preserve and expand patients’ access to pharmacist services and ensure that pharmacists are adequately compensated for these services.

Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI), David McKinley (R-WV), Nanette Barragán (D-CA), and Buddy Carter (R-GA) introduced H.R. 7213, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act, in March 2022. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that Medicare beneficiaries maintain access to essential care and services provided by pharmacists.1

“H.R. 7213, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act, would ensure Medicare beneficiaries maintain access to essential care and services provided by pharmacists and would create Medicare Part B direct reimbursement mechanisms for pharmacists’ services related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases, including flu, strep throat, and RSV,” wrote the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition in a handout about the survey.2 The coalition is comprised of American health care companies and professional associations.

Since the introduction of the legislation, more than 180 organizations representing patients, pharmacists, community pharmacies, and rural and underserved communities have expressed support for H.R 7213.1

“Congress should heed the call of older Americans who agree that the government should preserve patient access to essential services provided by pharmacists that protect them from COVID-19 and other public health threats,” said Mark Gibbons, president and CEO of RetireSafe, in a press release. “Older Americans—particularly those in rural and underserved communities—rely on pharmacists to access care and services where limited or no other options exist. Congress should act now on H.R. 7213 to ensure patients can continue to access essential services from pharmacists now and in the future.”1

The Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition survey results reflect these sentiments. More than 54% of survey respondents said that they strongly agree that Congress should cover pharmacist services for testing, vaccination, and treatment for infectious diseases.

Additionally, 80% of older Americans agree that they want to access testing, vaccination, and treatment at the pharmacy during COVID-19 and future public health emergencies. This included 57% of non-White respondents who strongly agreed and 89% of Hispanic respondents in general agreement.

Notably, 40% of non-White older Americans said pharmacists are their most accessible health care provider and a critical source of care. This proportion was higher, at 45%, among Hispanic respondents.

The survey found that 72% of older Americans report concern at the prospect of lacking reliable access to testing, vaccination, or treatment from their local pharmacist during future health emergencies, with 53% of non-White and 56% of Hispanic respondents feeling very concerned by this prospect.

Overall, 84% of non-White older Americans want to be able to access vaccines, testing, and treatments for flu, strep, or future pandemic infections from their local pharmacist.

According to the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition, these findings provide evidence to support H.R. 7213.

“The Coalition advocates for federal policy solutions (H.R. 7213) that recognize and advance the critical role pharmacists play to care for patients,” they concluded.2

References

1. National survey finds 82 percent of older Americans want congress to reimburse pharmacists so they can get additional testing & treatment for infectious diseases [press release]. Washington, DC: Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition; August 5, 2022. https://pharmacycare.org/new-report-overwhelming-majority-of-older-americans-believe-congress-should-ensure-patient-access-to-health-services-from-pharmacists/. Accessed August 17, 2022.

2. Older Americans agree: Congress should ensure patient Access to testing, treatment & Vaccination for Medicare beneficiaries. Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition. https://pharmacycare.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/FPCC-Handout-Patient-Access-to-Pharmacy-Care-Survey.pdf