Another month came and went (and definitely much faster than we realized!). We here at The Grassroots Pharmacist are working hard to make time move slower, but while we work on that, it’s time for another edition of our Monthly Roundup. April was a busy month for health policy, especially for pharmacy, with the introduction of H.R. 2759 – The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act. We cover that and everything else you need to know for the rest of this month.
What Your Patients Need to Know: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Recommendations for Vaccinated Individuals
Last week, the CDC announced new guidelines for vaccinated individuals. Based on the new update, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or adhere to social distancing in any setting, except where required by federal, state, or local laws. The CDC also has said that fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual, unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility. The CDC has also updated testing and traveling guidelines, so for all of the updates, check out the CDC website below.
Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine Journey: Where Are We Now?
After a temporary pause, the FDA has resumed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use in the United States. The vaccine was paused due to reports of adverse events after administration of the vaccine. These adverse events suggested an increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) within 1-2 weeks following dose administration, specifically in adult women under the age of 50. During the temporary pause, the FDA reviewed the availability data and concluded that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the known and potential risks. If you are administering the J&J vaccine, make sure you let your patients know that it is safe. However, women younger than 50 should still be aware of the risk of this adverse event and all patients should be informed to report any adverse events after vaccination to v-safe and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
Bill Introduction: H.R. 2759 – Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act
The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act was reintroduced in the United States House of Representatives and Senate as H.R. 2759 and S. 1362, respectively. This bill commonly referred to as national or Medicare provider status would recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers within the Social Security Act and allow for the reimbursement of their services under the Medicare Part B benefit in medically underserved areas. This reimbursement reform would align pharmacists with how other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants bill for their cognitive services. Check out our past posts on why pharmacists need provider status, how we could achieve national provider status, and what you can do to advocate for provider status.
Bills We Are Tracking:
- HR. 2759/S. 1362 – Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act.
- S. 1309 – A Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act.
Articles We Are Reading:
- Health Affairs: Fewer Pharmacies in Black and Hispanic/Latino Neighborhoods Compared With White or Diverse Neighborhoods, 2007-15
- Health Affairs Podcast: Breaking Down How Pharmacy Deserts and Access Relate to Health Equity
- KHN: COVID Shot in the Arm Not Enough to Keep Pharmacies in Business
- Stat: How Digital Pharmacies Can Expand Access to Specialized Care