ACCP joined pharmacy colleagues from across the profession to support the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (ECAPS), which enables Medicare patients to receive timely and consistent treatment from pharmacists for pandemic-related health services and facilitates pharmacist response to current and future threats to public health.
In addition, ACCP and 28 other state and national pharmacy organizations united to request that Congress immediately take action to fully fund the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) COVID-19 Uninsured Program and provide clarification that any currently unpaid claims will receive priority for reimbursement.
On March 16, 2022, HRSA published a notice to pharmacists and other health care practitioners that the COVID-19 Uninsured Program will no longer accept claims for COVID-19 testing and treatment because of insufficient funds. Without this critical funding, pharmacists across the country may struggle to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations and services to one of the nation’s most vulnerable patient populations, the uninsured.
ACCP in Action
ACCP urges Congress to immediately pass legislation to fully fund the COVID-19 Uninsured Program and the COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund to ensure pharmacists and other members of the health care team can continue to provide the COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccinations necessary to prevent future variants and ultimately defeat the disease.
A copy of the joint pharmacy letter is available here.
ACCP also endorsed H.R. 7213, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (ECAPS), introduced on March 24, 2022, by Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), David B. McKinley (R-WV), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), and Buddy Carter (R-GA).
The bill is an effort to position pharmacists to respond to the threat of new COVID variants and potential future pandemics by providing ready access to testing, treatment, and immunizations for communities throughout the country.
Specifically, the new legislation would:
- Add pharmacists as eligible providers for Medicare Part B beneficiaries of pharmacies’ and pharmacists’ services related to the COVID-19 pandemic and specific infectious diseases, such as testing (for COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and strep throat), treatment (for COVID-19, influenza, and strep throat), and vaccinations (for COVID-19 and influenza)
- Prepare for future emergencies by creating a mechanism to establish Medicare coverage and payment for pharmacy- and pharmacist-provided services when there is a public health need, such as during a public health emergency or similar event
- Authorize the HHS secretary to identify services as needed, including to close gaps in health equity
- Be limited to state scope of practice or incident-to physician’s services, or more broadly if provided under a PREP Act declaration
- Enable pharmacists across the country to provide services to Medicare beneficiaries in order to address COVID-19 and other pressing health needs in all areas of the country
A draft copy of the legislative language is available here.
ACCP is proud of the profession’s commitment to provide care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Pharmacists have delivered most of the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as many of the COVID-19 tests and treatments. Now is not the time to cut off equitable access to necessary COVID-19 services for uninsured or vulnerable populations who lack access to these essential health services.
For more information, contact ACCP’s Director of Government Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.