ARLINGTON, Va. — NACDS on Wednesday urged Congress to take necessary action to help pharmacies and pharmacists scale and sustain COVID-19 testing services for the benefit of patients, communities, states and the nation.
NACDS also expressed disappointment about lobbying by the American Medical Association (AMA) that stands in the way of patients’ enhanced access to these services and that does not reflect the partnership among highly trusted physicians and pharmacists that has worked so well during the pandemic.
NACDS represents regional and national drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies – including those serving customers regionally with as few as four stores to those operating in communities from coast to coast.
In an open letter to the bipartisan Congressional leadership and to Trump Administration officials released Wednesday, NACDS urged immediate legislative action to remove a “nagging barrier” to enhanced access to COVID-19 testing services. NACDS said emergency provider status for pharmacists is necessary because it would create a “clear reimbursement pathway” that does not yet exist, despite actions by the federal government to authorize pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests.
In addition, NACDS President and CEO Steven Anderson issued the following statement:
It is extremely disappointing to learn that the AMA is lobbying to choke off a needed reimbursement pathway for pharmacist-provided COVID testing services. That pathway is essential to scale and sustain testing for all Americans and particularly those suffering from disparities in care. It is amazing that the AMA is attempting to divide the partnership among physicians and pharmacists that has worked so well during the pandemic. The AMA’s lobbying is out of step with doctors who are excellent partners with pharmacies and pharmacists, and out of step with the fact that doctors and pharmacists are highly trusted healthcare professionals. In fact, doctors have contacted pharmacies and pharmacists throughout the pandemic to ask for help in providing services to their patients. Physicians at senior levels of our nation’s pandemic response have acted to empower pharmacies and pharmacists to ramp up testing services. Congress must not give the AMA veto power again over a policy needed to provide our patients and communities ready access to the COVID testing services they need.
More information about NACDS’ policy recommendations is available in the report Pharmacies: A Vital Partner in Reopening America.