NACDS praises HHS action on vaccine access

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NACDS praises HHS action on vaccine access

ARLINGTON, Va.  – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has praised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) “Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments,” saying it will provide the uninsured with continued access to COVID-19 care. NACDS notes that it has consistently urged action to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and to do so in a manner that is workable for pharmacies.

“Related to COVID-19, NACDS has urged the Biden Administration to finish the job well and to act on the lessons of the pandemic,” NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson said. “Today’s announcement of the ‘Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments’ is another sign that they are doing just that. It will be critically important to work to ensure that this program includes fair and adequate reimbursement. We welcome HHS’ pro-patient and pro-pharmacy action on issues related to COVID-19 services for the uninsured, just as we welcomed the April 14 announcement of the intention to extend vital aspects of the federal PREP Act (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act) through December 2024.

“Both of these actions are critically important to support patient access and for pharmacy operations, and NACDS appreciates the Biden Administration’s responsiveness to NACDS’ recommendations. NACDS looks forward to working with the Biden Administration, with the Congress, and with the states to continue to meet the needs of the American people based on NACDS members’ unique insights from the front lines of care.”

An HHS fact sheet announcing the “HHS Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments” states: “Pharmacies have been a critical partner in the Administration’s response to COVID-19 and a critical access point for millions of Americans in receiving convenient and timely COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests…During the 2022-2023 season, available data show that more than two-thirds of adult COVID-19 vaccinations were administered at pharmacies.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pharmacies have provided more than 301 million COVID-19 vaccinations – with 50 percent of those shots provided in underserved areas.

The program will establish, through December 2024, a public-private partnership to help maintain uninsured individuals’ access to COVID-19 care through healthcare destinations, including pharmacies — an important action made particularly necessary by the transition of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to the commercial markets. NACDS has consistently called for detailed plans for a workable approach to meeting the needs of uninsured individuals.

Looking beyond December 2024, NACDS’ Anderson noted, “NACDS has provided recommendations to HHS for a long-term solution to meeting the needs of uninsured individuals, and we look forward to working with HHS to ensure a long-term solution works for patients and for pharmacies. It is important that HHS not model a long-term solution for adults based on the current Vaccines for Children Program, which has significant operational and reimbursement barriers. The Biden Administration is taking important and informed actions in the transition from the pandemic and we look forward to continuing to apply lessons from the pandemic in effective ways on behalf of the American people.”



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