The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Wednesday praised recommendations by the Trump administration on how to empower healthcare professionals to meet Americans’ needs. NACDS urged the Administration and the states to remove more barriers to assure pharmacies and pharmacists are fully ready for the escalating demands of the pandemic as the COVID-19 crisis expands.
The recommendations to the governors followed on the heels of an open letter on Tuesday, March. 24 to the White House, Congress, and all U.S. Governors by NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson.
In the letter, Anderson requested help in removing barriers to care so pharmacists could be prepared to meet the demand of those affected by COVID-19.
Anderson urged governors to ensure that pharmacies could remain open using all means, including central fill sites, technology, and out-of-state professionals; authorize pharmacies to provide COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines in states; ensure expanded access to pharmacy care to reduce pressures on hospitals, physician practices, and urgent clinics; and enable pharmacies to deliver therapies directly to patients, including future therapies that have yet to be developed.
In response, Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services sent a letter to the nation’s governors asking for “assistance to extend the capacity of the healthcare workforce to address the pandemic.”
Several of the state policy changes that Azar urged are consistent with NACDS’ March 24 open letter to the White House, to Congress and to the governors, and with a detailed letter to the governors. They include allowances for health professionals to work across state lines; for telehealth; for scope of practice; for licensure requirements; and for waiving of signatures during pharmaceutical deliveries.
“NACDS appreciates these recommendations to our governors from Secretary Azar and the Trump Administration, as they would reduce some barriers to patient care that jeopardize preparedness and effectiveness in pandemic response,” Anderson said. “Yet this is a critical time, and anything less than a total approach from all levels of government will limit the ability of healthcare professionals to meet the impending demand of the American public during this crisis."
Anderson also emphasized that pharmacy can play an important role in curbing the
“Our nation will not be able to fully ‘bend the curve,’ nor re-launch the economy, without leveraging pharmacies and pharmacists – the healthcare destinations and professionals serving within five miles of most Americans. When a point-of-care test, treatment and vaccine for COVID-19 are readily available, it will be essential to leverage the accessibility of pharmacies and pharmacists. Pharmacies and pharmacists also have a tremendous role to play for patients with other conditions and illnesses suffering beside an overwhelmed healthcare delivery system. We are doing what we can now for our patients, communities and nation, and we want and need to be able to answer the call as demands rise,” Anderson said.