Grassley, Casey, Brown Re-introduce Popular Bipartisan Bill to Help Pharmacists Provide Medical Services to Older Americans in Under-served Areas
WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and fellow senators today re-introduced their popular bipartisan legislation to encourage pharmacists to serve older Americans in communities lacking easy access to doctors or where pharmacists are more convenient to visit for certain services than doctors.
“A lot of people in rural Iowa have easier access to a pharmacist than a doctor,” Grassley said. “Where that pharmacist is licensed to provide a service, Medicare ought to pay the pharmacist for it. That’s what this bill does. It’s good for pharmacists because they get paid for providing services to rural seniors. It’s good for rural seniors because they keep access to their local pharmacist and don’t have to go to the doctor for straightforward medication management.”
“Across the country and in Pennsylvania pharmacists play a critical role in helping seniors receive access to routine healthcare services like wellness checks,” Casey said. “This legislation will aid those in rural communities who may not live in close proximity to the doctor but do have regular contact with their pharmacist. I’m hopeful that Congress will move forward on this commonsense legislation in the coming year.”
“Seniors in rural Ohio shouldn’t have to travel long distances to see their doctor for a simple health screening when the pharmacist down the street can offer the same services,” said Brown. “We can better serve our seniors and taxpayers by cutting through the red tape and giving seniors more choice on where they go for care”
The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, S.109, has 27 original cosponsors. It encourages pharmacists to offer health care services such as health and wellness screenings, immunizations and diabetes management by authorizing Medicare payments for those services where pharmacists are already licensed under state law to provide them. Most states already allow pharmacists to provide these services but there currently is no way for pharmacists to receive Medicare reimbursement for providing them.
The bill is supported by organizations including the Iowa Pharmacy Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, the American Pharmacists Association and Kmart. Hundreds of people, including Iowa pharmacy students, have contacted Grassley’s office in support of the measure,.
A companion bill is planned in the House of Representatives.