EMBARGOED Until August 6, 2020, 12:30 pm EDT
Patients, Consumers, the Underserved, Healthcare Providers and Public Health Call on Congress to Fix a Missing Link So Pharmacies Can Ramp Up COVID Testing and Prepare for Vaccinations
Patient groups urging action in next COVID bill represent 200 million Americans living with cancer, cardiovascular disease, HIV, mental health issues, liver disease, lupus and other conditions
Washington, D.C. – The Association of Black Cardiologists and a coalition of over 20 other groups representing patients, consumers, the medically underserved, public health, and diverse healthcare providers is asking Congress to finally take action necessary for more pharmacies to ramp up patients’ access to COVID-19 testing and to help prevent delays in giving vaccines when they become available.
Despite being authorized to order and administer COVID-19 tests, pharmacists still have no reliable way to be paid for these services. This effectively excludes too many Americans from ready access to testing programs that could be implemented by nearby and trusted pharmacists. Formally designating pharmacists as “providers” under Medicare will fix this problem – and prevent a similar problem that threatens vaccine deployment.
“Over 90% of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy, making pharmacists the most widely accessible health care providers. Evidence suggests pharmacists have more opportunities to interact with patients in the community than other providers, however, if action is not taken, the country may not be able to leverage these critical access points to testing and immunizations,” the coalition wrote to the bipartisan Congressional leadership and to the Trump Administration.
Groups signing the letter represent more than 200 million Americans living with conditions that leave them particularly at risk to COVID-19, and include:
Alliance for Aging Research
American Association of Heart Failure Nurses
American Kidney Fund
Association of Black Cardiologists
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Global Liver Institute
International Cancer Advocacy Network
Lupus and Allied Diseases Association
Mended Little Hearts
Men’s Health Network
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Consumers League
National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention
National Lipid Association
National Rural Health Association
Partnership to Improve Patient Care
Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association
The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association
“We urge Congress to fill the gap by recognizing the full potential of the pharmacist on the patient’s health care team and authorizing emergency pharmacist provider status under Medicare Part B to provide COVID and influenza testing and vaccinations. As the number of COVID-19 cases spike in certain communities across the country and the flu season approaches, the opportunity cannot be missed to ramp up patient access to testing and immunizations,” the Coalition urged.
Founded in 1974, the ABC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating the disparities related to cardiovascular disease and achieving health equity such that all people can live long, healthy lives. Membership is open to all interested in the care of people with or at risk for cardiovascular disease, including health professionals, lay members of the community (Community Health Advocates), corporate and institutional members. For more information, visit www.abcardio.org and connect with ABC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.