Congress fails to include pharmacists in opioid-related services

Even though many pharmacists answered APhA’s calls for support and outreach, the opioid bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump did not include any Medicare Part B coverage of pharmacists’ opioid-related services, reports American Pharmacists Association’s CEO Tom Menighan.

During the development of this year’s opioid legislative package, congressional leadership made it clear that they would exclude measures having a significant budget implication and therefore, the potential cost or score had been the major barrier to the inclusion of pharmacists’ services language.

“While we are admittedly extremely disappointed, our work was not in vain.  There is a better awareness and understanding in Congress and federal agencies regarding the broad range of services — including those related to pain management and substance use disorders — that pharmacists can provide, and more appreciation for their value” said Menighan.

APhA wants to reiterate our thanks and appreciation to the thousands of pharmacists who reached out to legislators asking for the passage of H.R. 592/S. 109, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act and for related language to be added to opioid legislation, he said.

The lack of congressional passage is not indicative of the value of our profession’s efforts nor of APhA’s efforts to inform legislators and the Administration of the importance of covering pharmacists’ services.  The estimated cost of expanding patient access to pharmacists’ services has always been a concern of Members of Congress, added Menighan.