NCPA launches campaign for small business relief
The National Community Pharmacists Association is highlighting areas of need for small businesses with its new campaign. The campaign, called "Essential," which kicked of Wednesday on social media, is demanding that the next COVID-19 legislative package include a Paycheck Protection Program extension, hazard pay provisions and the ability for pharmacists to administer tests and vaccines, among other needs.
“Essential businesses are taking great precautions, sometimes at considerable expense, to continue serving their communities while also protecting consumers, their employees, and themselves against the virus,” said Doug Hoey, NCPA CEO. “Their neighbors need them, especially neighborhood pharmacies.”
The NCPA 'Essential' campaign is aimed at rallying pharmacists and other small business owners to pressure Congress to include several key provisions in the next package of COVID-19 relief, including:
- Liability protections for essential businesses operating in good faith: NCPA is calling for temporary and targeted liability relief legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that small business pharmacies need protection from unfair lawsuits so that they can continue to contribute to a safe and effective recovery from this crisis. A recent NCPA survey showed near-unanimous support among community pharmacists for such protections;
- Expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program: The Paycheck Protection Program, which was first passed in the CARES Act and improved in the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, has been successful in helping small businesses retain their workforce. NCPA wants Congress to improve upon this program, including allowing businesses that received PPP loans to deduct eligible expenses from their taxes and qualify for the Employee Retention tax credit;
- Recognition of pharmacists as health care providers: While pharmacists have been given limited authority to order and administer coronavirus tests during the public health emergency, obstacles still prevent pharmacists from practicing at their full capabilities. NCPA believes Congress should recognize pharmacists as health care providers and remove barriers to expanding testing by pharmacists, as well as promote immunization authority and ensure pharmacists are reimbursed for the health care services they provide;
- Hazard pay for front line workers: NCPA supports the passage of federally supported premium pay in addition to regular wages for essential workers, including pharmacy staff; and
- Tax credits to offset costs of safety precautions: NCPA believes Congress should recognize the increased financial burden on businesses to safely operate, including the necessity to purchase personal protective equipment and increased expenses for cleaning and sanitation.
“Some of the most vulnerable patients and communities rely on independent pharmacies for care. These are family-owned small businesses, but many are on the brink,” Hoey said. “Congress and the administration must fix pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration fees, a top priority in ensuring neighborhood pharmacies’ long-term survival. And as the pandemic continues, policymakers should also include safeguards in future coronavirus relief legislation so essential businesses can have the resources to cover their expenses, workers can remain employed, and the essential neighborhood pharmacy safety net can serve communities during the pandemic and beyond.”
NCPA’s "Essential" campaign will utilize grassroots advocacy to keep the pressure on policymakers for essential relief, and will also utilize social media.