A major effort on the part of the pharmacy community is being made to make the passage of Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592 and S. 314) a reality.

A coalition of 37 organizations representing patients, pharmacists, and pharmacies, as well as other interested stakeholders was formed with their sole mission of developing and helping enact a federal policy proposal that would enable patient access to, and payment for, Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically-underserved communities.

Their primary goal is to expand medically-underserved patients’ access to pharmacist services consistent with state scope of practice laws. This coalition is known as The Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition (PAPCC) and they are the driving force behind the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592 and S. 314).

As with any legislation, passage is a long and arduous process and challenges are always part of this process. Let’s highlight some of these challenges in getting the bill passed.

Challenges of getting passage of the bill

Even though this bill has bipartisan support, 2016 election positioning by both parties could come into play, specifically when the cost component of the bill becomes known, therefore there are some who believe that this bill will not pass until after the 2106 election.

Although, as of 10/25/15, the Cosponsor count has reached greater than one half of the House and Senate, the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Upton, would like to have 230 cosponsors before holding a hearing, so at least 4 more cosponsors are needed.

Time: there is a less than a month in the first part of the congressional session before debate on the debt ceiling begins.

Support of this bill can be drastically affected by the “scoring” of this bill by the Congressional Budget Office. This scoring process involves projecting what the increase in costs to Medicare will be, and, depending on who you talk to, the numbers are anticipated to be in the single digit billions over the next 5 to 10 years. Going into an election year, representatives may be wary of supporting a bill “that will increase Medicare costs.”

Campaign ads by the opposition don’t go on to explain that this new spending could be offset by cost savings as a result of improved patient health outcomes, reduced hospitalizations, emergency room visits and nursing home admissions.

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Challenges to passing Provider Status

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