There has also been new bi-partisan legislation introduced that would permit certain basic medical services to be given by pharmacies.
Representatives G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Representative David McKinley (R-W.Va.) have introduced a bill called the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, “which will make it easier for Medicare patients in underserved communities to receive care.”
According to a press release from Butterfield’s office, “The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive basic care such as immunizations, diabetes management, blood pressure screenings and routine checks from pharmacists. There is currently no avenue for Medicare to directly reimburse pharmacists for providing this care. As a result, Medicare patients in underserved areas, often rural communities, are forced to travel to the doctor for these basic services. This creates substantial burdens in many cases, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where access to healthcare providers are severely limited. The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act would allow Medicare to reimburse pharmacists who provide care in these underserved communities.”
As with the other legislation listed above, TSCL will look at this bill very carefully before we decide whether to support. Our biggest concern is that Congress should NOT ignore sound funding for rural and underserved community health clinics centers and branches of hospitals by expanding funding for pharmacy clinics.
Pharmacies are not a substitute for actual medical clinics and this is not how we believe Congress should be trying to save money. We are fine with expanding basic services through pharmacies as long as the community health resources are getting properly funded.
That said, we realize some communities probably don’t have a lot of resources and therefore a pharmacy may be the only option Medicare patients have in that area.
As we said, we will take a careful look at the bill once more information is available.