Bipartisan U.S. House Bill Introduced to Extend Pharmacy Authorities Beyond COVID-19 Pandemic

Mar 25, 2022

We are glad to report that on March 24th, 2022, U.S. House Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI), David B. McKinley (R-WV), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), and Buddy Carter (R-GA) introduced H.R. 7213, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (ECAPS), bipartisan legislation that would ensure patients continue to have access to essential pandemic and other health services provided by pharmacists, including services to keep communities safe from COVID-19, future public health threats, and perennial conditions. More than 100 national and state-based associations representing patients, pharmacists, community pharmacies, and rural and undeserved communities supported the legislation, and ECAPS’ introduction is a key milestone in AmerisourceBergen and independent and community pharmacy’s efforts to advance new legislative solutions for federal recognition of pharmacy provider status in Medicare.

ECAPS 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 

ECAPS also provides some flexibility to address future Public Health Emergency (PHE) needs by establishing Medicare coverage and payment for pharmacy- and pharmacist-provided services during PHEs, as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).    

AB continues to educate policymakers on the critical role that pharmacies play in our healthcare system:

  • Not only do 9 in 10 Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, the majority of pharmacists (55%) work in a community-based setting.
  • 45% of pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination sites were reported to be in areas with moderate to severe social vulnerability.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that pharmacists have administered more than 233 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the U.S. through March 3, 2022. 

Learn more:

  • Click here to see the complete list of pharmacy groups supporting this legislation, and here to see the list of third-party signatories (such as 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and the American Diabetes Association) to a similar letter to Congress.
  • The text of H.R. 7213, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act can be found here.
  • Read statements from U.S. Representatives Kind and Carter .
  • Read statement from Jenni Zilka, President of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, and Rich Tremonte, EVP & President of Customer Operations, Animal Health, and Community & Specialty Pharmacy at AmerisourceBergen here.
  • Read statement from the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition here. 

The Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition members, who all support ECAPS, include the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Health Mart, Kroger, McKesson, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and Walgreens. 

While AmerisourceBergen and Good Neighbor Pharmacy have joined forces with the pharmacy community as an Executive Committee Member of the Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition to craft and advocate for enactment of ECAPS, for many years, the pharmacy community has advocated for pharmacy provider status legislation for Medicare, and AmerisourceBergen and Good Neighbor Pharmacy will continue to support the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (S. 1362/H.R. 2759) in addition to ECAPS. 

We will provide updates and please don’t hesitate to contact Beth Mitchell, AmerisourceBergen Senior Director of Government Affairs, at BMitchell@amerisourcebergen.com or Tony Lee, AmerisourceBergen Director of Public Policy, at tony.lee@amerisourcebergen.com if you have any questions.  Grassroots engagement to encourage your Member of Congress to support this legislation will be forthcoming!