Professional Black female pharmacist talking with senior customer

National Coalition Applauds Bipartisan Federal Legislation to Combat COVID-19, Improve Patient Access & Respond to Future Public Health Threats

H.R. 7213 Would Ensure Patient Access to Essential Care & Services by Pharmacists, Often the Most Accessible Points of Healthcare in Communities Across the Country 

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25, 2022 – On Thursday, Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), Congressman David B. McKinley (R-WV), Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), and Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) introduced H.R. 7213, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure patients continue to have access to essential pandemic and pandemic-related health services provided by pharmacists, including services to keep communities safe from COVID-19 and future public health threats. More than 100 national and state-based associations representing patients, pharmacists, community pharmacies, and rural and underserved communities applauded the legislation.

H.R. 7213 would ensure continued access, especially for marginalized rural and urban populations, to important pharmacist services related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other illnesses, including:

  • Testing: COVID-19, Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and Strep Throat
  • Treatment: COVID-19, Influenza, and Strep Throat
  • Vaccinations: COVID-19 and Influenza

H.R. 7213 also will protect patients by ensuring pharmacists can continue to safeguard our nation’s communities against future public health threats by establishing Medicare payment for pharmacy- and pharmacist-provided services in the case of Public Health Emergencies, as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).    

“Millions of patients across Wisconsin and the country rely on pharmacists for critical care and support, especially in our rural communities,” said Congressman Ron Kind. “The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act will help ensure patients can continue to access testing, vaccination, and other critical health services from their local pharmacy while also making sure our pharmacists are ready for future public health emergencies. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation and I’ll keep working to make sure all Wisconsinites have access to the quality care they need.”  

“Patients have benefitted enormously from the health care and services provided by pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those living in underserved communities,” said Congresswoman Barragán. “I am proud to join Reps. Kind, Carter, and McKinley in introducing this legislation that would ensure that patients can continue to have reliable and timely access to important testing and vaccination services provided by pharmacists. For California’s 44th District and Los Angeles County, where low-income communities and communities of color often lack equitable access to essential health care and services, this bill will alleviate gaps in care and improving health equity.” 

“As a pharmacist, I know that accessible health care is crucial to our nation’s wellbeing. As we look to create a ‘new normal,’ we must prepare our pharmacists for the next public health emergency, so they are ready to serve and protect their communities,” said Congressman Carter. “Thank you to Rep. Kind for leading this issue, which will bring necessary aid to the millions of patients that rely on pharmacists for care.”

As the first line of defense for patients, pharmacists are often the most accessible point of care and have played an essential role in the response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Nearly All Americans Have Immediate Access to Pharmacist Care. Today, 9 in 10 Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy.
  • Pharmacists Are on the Frontlines of COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pharmacists have administered more than 234 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the U.S. through March 17, 2022.
  • Pharmacists are the First Line of Defense for Rural America. The majority of pharmacists (55%) work in a community-based setting, and 45% of pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination sites were reported to be in areas with moderate to severe social vulnerability.

“Pharmacists are a trusted, reliable, and accessible source of care and support to the most vulnerable and underserved communities in our healthcare system and have answered the call time and again to protect Americans from COVID-19,” said Toyin Tofade, dean and professor at Howard University College of Pharmacy. “H.R. 7213 will empower patients, many of whom have no other healthcare options, to continue to find refuge and critical care at the pharmacy, strengthen our ability to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics, and address deep-rooted health inequities that persist in America.”   

The Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition, a group representing pharmacists and community pharmacies of all sizes serving millions of patients daily across the U.S., supports H.R. 7213. Coalition members supporting the legislation include Abbott, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Health Mart, Kroger Health, McKesson, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and Walgreens.

Organizations supporting H.R. 7213 include: 60 Plus, 100 Black Men of America, Inc., Aimed Alliance, AIDS United, Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance), American Diabetes Association (ADA), Arthritis Foundation, Chronic Care Policy Alliance (CCPA), Color of Crohn’s & Chronic Illness (COCCI), Community Liver Alliance (CLA), Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati, Faith for Black Lives, Familia Unida Living with MS, Infusion Access Foundation (IAF), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc., The Mended Hearts, Inc., Men’s Health Network (MHN), National Black Nurses Association (NBNA), National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW), National Consumers League (NCL), National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH), The National Grange, National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), National Rural Health Association (NRHA), RetireSafe.

Click here to see the complete list of groups supporting this legislation.

The full text of the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act can be found here.

About the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition

The Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition comprises American healthcare companies and professional associations that together provide care for hundreds of millions of patients across communities and represent pharmacists and community pharmacies of all sizes across the U.S. The Coalition advocates for federal policy solutions that recognize and advance the critical role pharmacists play to care for patients and ensure they can continue to create a more just and sustainable healthcare system. Coalition membership includes the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Health Mart, Kroger Health, McKesson, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and Walgreens.

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