Dec. 14, 2022, 3:05 p.m. News Staff — The AAFP is fighting to stop legislation that would expand pharmacists’ scope of practice in Medicare.
If passed, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (H.R. 7213) could “undermine the physician-led, team-based care models that have proven to be most effective in improving quality, efficiency and, most important, patient health,” the AAFP warned in a Dec. 5 letter to the bill’s four co-sponsors. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians co-signed the letter.
While noting the importance of pharmacists to the overall delivery of high-quality health care, the groups reminded lawmakers that “pharmacists, unlike physicians, are not trained to independently perform patient examinations, diagnose, formulate a treatment plan or prescribe medication.”
“Granting independent diagnosis and prescription authority for pharmacists to treat the flu, COVID-19 and strep throat without access to comprehensive care, including preventive services, or coordination with a physician will only exacerbate health inequities and disrupt the continuity of care,” the letter added.
The groups also expressed concern that the legislation would let pharmacists, in the bill’s words, “furnish services as determined by the HHS secretary by program instruction or otherwise, including the closing gaps in health equity.”
“The vague nature of this language has the potential to promote fragmented care and make inequities worse rather than improve them,” said the Academy and its co-signatories. “Policies should instead promote diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of a patient in their medical home and with their primary care physician, who is trained to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the patient and their medical history.”
“It is clear that patients are best served when their care is provided by an integrated practice care team led by a physician. We are concerned that H.R. 7213 conflicts with this approach to health care delivery and could result in patients forgoing comprehensive preventive care, which could lead to worse health outcomes for patients and increased health costs. We urge Congress to focus on policies that strengthen the medical home and encourage patients to visit their primary care physician for routine care.”