Congressmen Guthrie, Butterfield, Young & Kind Reintroduce Bill to Increase Access to Health Care in Underserved Areas

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Brett (R-KY), Congressman G.K. (D-NC), Congressman Todd (R-IN), and Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) joined together to introduce H.R. 592, which will allow Medicare to reimburse pharmacists in medically underserved communities for certain health care services. 

The bipartisan legislation, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, was supported by 123 bipartisan cosponsors during the 113th Congress.

“Whether it’s to inquire about medication, potential side effects, or discussing other ailments and complications, many patients depend on their local pharmacists,” said Congressman Guthrie.  “Expanding access to other basic services that pharmacists are already licensed to provide will not only benefit seniors in Kentucky, but across the country.”

Most states already allow pharmacists to provide additional services, such as immunizations, diabetes management, blood pressure screenings and routine checks.  Despite the ability to perform such services, there is currently no mechanism for pharmacists to be reimbursed for these by the Medicare program. 

“Pharmacists are highly trained health care professionals who, in coordination and collaboration with other health care providers, can help to deliver improved patient outcomes,” said Congressman Butterfield.  “Allowing these qualified medical professionals to operate in underserved areas and receive payment for their services is a practical way to address the basic health care needs of vulnerable communities and the shortage in the delivery of care in those areas.”

“Southern Indiana, like many regions of the country, is full of rural communities without adequate access to health care providers,” said Congressman Young. “A simple solution to that problem is to allow pharmacists to offer clinical services already within their scope of practice to Medicare patients in medically underserved areas. I’m proud to join Reps. Guthrie, Butterfield and Kind in once again introducing legislation that would give them that ability.”

“In a rural district like mine, health care accessibility is a major concern. Pharmacists play an important role in rural health care, providing important services like blood-pressure screenings, immunizations, and routine checkups,” said Congressman Kind. “By providing Medicare coverage for these services in medically-underserved communities, we improve access to these services in rural areas and allow pharmacists to practice to the full extent of their training.”