SOURCE: American Pharmacists Association

American Pharmacists Association

September 15, 2016 10:24 ET

APhA: Members of Congress Advocate for the Profession in United States House of Representatives

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - September 15, 2016) - On Tuesday evening, United States Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) and other Members of Congress took to the floor of the House of Representatives for an hour-long Special Order on pharmacy issues. Carter, the only pharmacist in Congress, expressed the urgent need for pharmacists to be recognized as health care providers. Others participating in the Special Order include Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Austin Scott (R-GA).

Rep. Carter highlighted the fact that pharmacists' role in patient care is much more than dispensing medication, discussing the vital role that pharmacists play in the community as well as on the health care team.

He noted that Representative Brett Guthrie's (R-KY) bill, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R 592/S. 314), would provide Medicare beneficiary access to those clinical services that pharmacists are capable of providing. "Pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals out there," said Carter. H.R. 592/S. 314 seeks to increase access and improve quality by enabling pharmacists to provide patient care services consistent with their education, training and license. The bill would enable Medicare beneficiaries in medically underserved communities to access services that pharmacists can provide consistent with state scope of practice laws.

Millions of Americans lack adequate access to primary health care and the demand is expected to worsen in coming years. Over the next two decades, the number of Medicare enrollees is expected to grow from roughly 50 million to over 80 million. In the face of primary health care provider shortages, pharmacists are conveniently accessible health care professionals who, in coordination and collaboration with other health care team providers, are capable of playing a greater role in the delivery of health care services.

While pharmacists remain committed to assisting patients with access and information related to their prescription medications, pharmacists today are providing a broad spectrum of services within their scope of practice, including conducting health and wellness testing, managing chronic diseases and performing medication management, administering immunizations and working in and partnering with hospitals and health systems to advance health and wellness and reduce hospital readmissions.

In addition to Carter, Representative Doug Collins (R-GA) discussed the lack of access and cost of care problems under the current health care system, and called for a hearing on the pharmacy provider status bill and other legislation that supports patient safety and advocacy. A majority of Congress has backed this initiative, as there are currently 293 members of the House and 50 members of the Senate supporting the legislation.

Congressmen Dave Loebsack (D-IA) added that "pharmacists across the country serve as the first line, really, of health care services for many patients, especially in small towns in Iowa and around the country. People count on pharmacists' training and expertise to stay healthy and informed and maybe, most importantly, to stay out of urgent care centers and hospitals, something we all want to see happen. I am proud to stand here today with my colleagues to recognize the quality, affordable, and personal care that pharmacists provide every day."

Carter has participated in a number of activities to promote the profession of pharmacy and advocate for the recognition of pharmacists' services. Carter will be partnering with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) for the upcoming 4th Annual Capitol Hill Health Fair on September 22 as part of advocacy and community outreach efforts in advance of American Pharmacists Month.

About the American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 63,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.

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