The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual flagship, “The State of American Business” event and report, include insights about the National Association of Chain Drug Stores memberships’ continued and vital role in serving Americans and fighting the COVID pandemic — and preview how the industry is entering a new era of total health and wellness that places patients at the center.
The Chamber’s highly anticipated economic analysis includes a statement by NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson in the “Retail” section.
“’Inspiration’ and ‘innovation’ define the state of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores membership. NACDS members and their teams — in traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass retail — have proven themselves again throughout the pandemic as the face of neighborhood healthcare. They have stayed open; filled gaps in care; rolled out COVID testing; vaccinated against COVID, flu and other diseases; and leveraged and enhanced pharmacies’ ongoing focus on health equity,” Anderson said.
Anderson noted how pharmacies continue to lead the vaccination effort, meeting people where they are.
“Government reporting shows that, as of mid-July 2021, 92% of all COVID vaccine was getting to Americans’ arms through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Pharmacies’ vaccinations through state programs take that percentage even higher. Pharmacies continue to lead the way with COVID boosters, expanding to pediatric COVID vaccinations, and giving flu vaccinations and other shots,” Anderson said.
He also also described the critical need to maintain the pharmacy flexibilities and authorities put in place during the COVID pandemic — so that Americans continue to have seamless access to care long after the pandemic subsides.
“A key takeaway is that, if pharmacies had not been successful in urging public policy that is critical for pharmacies’ operational efficiencies, today’s challenges amid a lingering global pandemic would be even more daunting. With virtually all industries confronting employee shortages, and particularly challenging environments throughout all healthcare settings, government actions urged and secured throughout the pandemic are proving essential. These include enhanced roles for pharmacy technicians and interns, the ability to put patients over paperwork, opportunities to leverage technology, and more. Pharmacy flexibilities and authorities put into place during the pandemic should not be rolled back, but rather expanded,” Anderson said.
In addition, he also described the ongoing need to make progress for sustainable pharmacy reimbursement models that ultimately serve patients well.
“Government leadership is sorely needed to ensure pharmacies can continue to be there for Americans in times of need from family emergencies to global pandemics. Much has been made of the statement: ‘there is a pharmacy within five miles of 90 percent of Americans.’ However, unworkable and unsustainable pharmacy reimbursement models, which jeopardize pharmacies of all sizes and formats, risk the public health assets that came through when the nation needed them most.”
In October, November and December 2021, NACDS released three reports that describe the pandemic’s lessons and recommendations for the future.
According to Anderson, even as the industry remains focused on advancing the public policy crucial to pharmacies’ viability and patients’ wellbeing, the industry continues to innovate and accelerate:
“NACDS members are defining their future of service to the American people amid emerging dynamics in self-care, telehealth, home healthcare, holistic care, multidisciplinary health and wellness, creative partnerships, digital, the focus on preventive care, and more.
“Put simply, pharmacies are the face of neighborhood healthcare, and given the chance they will meet Americans’ health and wellness needs in new and exciting ways.”
In 2021, NACDS’ insights about members’ role in serving Americans throughout the pandemic — and beyond — were included in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 report: “2021 State of American Business: Industry Perspectives.”