The Value of Pharmacy
For many Americans, the pharmacy is their most accessible form of healthcare. Approximately 67,000 pharmacies operate in the United States today, and nearly 95 percent of the population lives within 5 miles of a pharmacy. Although pharmacists are trained and licensed to deliver a number of vital healthcare services, current Medicare policy does not cover these services when provided by a pharmacist. This situation limits Medicare beneficiary access to health-care, particularly in medically underserved communities. It also helps drive up the costs of health-care as it forces seniors to seek care in more costly settings, including the hospital emergency department.
While pharmacists are best known for their commitment to dispensing prescription medications and helping patients use them safely, today’s pharmacists are trained and licensed to provide a number of additional services needed by many Medicare beneficiaries. These include conducting health and wellness testing, helping seniors manage chronic conditions, administering immunizations and helping seniors understand and manage their medications. While states license and determine the scope of practice for pharmacists, Congress can – and must – better ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to healthcare through pharmacist-provided services.