Saint Paul, MINN. –Today, Senator Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville, Representative Kelly Morrison, DFL - Deephaven, and Representative Kristin Bahner, DFL - Maple Grove announced a bipartisan package of bills to enhance patient health and access to essential pharmacy care. Without legislative action, many pharmacy services, including vaccination and point of care testing, will be lost when the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act expires.
“Pharmacists have been an invaluable resource for patient care throughout the pandemic, and Minnesotans have come to rely on receiving everyday health care needs - from vaccinations to testing - at their local pharmacy,” said Sen. Duckworth. “Access, choice and affordable care is critical to Minnesotans, and that’s why we are working in the legislature to strengthen pharmacy care in our state.”
“More than 3.5 million COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered by pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians in our state, helping address a devastating health crisis and saving lives. Minnesotans should be able to continue to access critical care after the pandemic ends,” said Rep. Bahner. “What’s more, by reimbursing pharmacists for these services, we can ensure patients from rural to urban, have convenient access to care close to home delivered by a trusted pharmacist thus ensuring the survival of our small independent pharmacies in our local communities, we are losing these pillars in our communities far too rapidly. This is a critical access issue.”
“Access to quality, trusted pharmacy care for low-income and traditionally underserved communities is critical to patient health and the well-being of all Minnesotans,” said Rep. Morrison. “Whether it’s a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19, monthly mental health injectable medications, or helping a patient with multiple sclerosis injections, we can expand offerings to patients at the local pharmacy with a prescription.”
The package of bipartisan bills being advanced this session include:
HF 2768 / SF 2678 (Morrison/Duckworth) will provide access for patients to medication administration and device placement services.
HF 4008 / SF 3823 (Bahner/Duckworth) will ensure pharmacists are reimbursed for health care services on par with other providers. Pharmacies are often not reimbursed or are reimbursed at rates lower than those paid to other health care providers for the same health service - putting a strain on access to health care when Minnesota is already facing a barrage of pharmacy closures.
HF 4009 / SF 3940 (Bahner/Duckworth) will allow for the continuation of vaccination and point of care testing services by pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns after the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act expires. The federal emergency act gave pharmacists the authority to vaccinate patients ages 3 years and above with any FDA approved or approved for emergency use vaccines, as well as order, administer and interpret FDA approved CLIA waived point of care testing for diseases like Influenza, Strep-A, A1C and more.
“Pharmacists were instrumental in combating an international pandemic, and patients value the care they receive at their hometown pharmacy - whether a major chain, at the grocery store, or from their independent Main Street pharmacy,” said Sarah Derr, Executive Director and CEO of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association (MPhA). “I am thankful that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and across our state recognize the value of pharmacy care and access for Minnesota patients, and I am hopeful we can get these bills signed into law this session.”