Talking Points: 11 December 2023

A quick roundup of the issues driving the healthcare reform conversation.

Week in Review

Calls to Expand Pharmacists’ Scope of Practice: A recent piece in Forbes by economist Ike Brannon points out a “A Practical Approach To Save Community Pharmacies.”

Digging deeper: Brannon explains expanding the “scope of practice” for pharmacists allows better access for patients suffering from illnesses like COVID-19, Flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). He says it would also result in community pharmacies thriving as businesses again.

 “Independent community pharmacists are often located in under-served rural and urban areas and are frequently the most accessible healthcare providers in many communities. Expanding a pharmacy’s scope of practice is a simple way to remove a government barrier to pharmacies becoming more valuable to the communities they serve.”

Gaining Momentum:  A dozen states have taken steps to expand the scope of practice for pharmacists. In Congress, The Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act would expand their scope of practice at a national level.

AFFORDABILITY CRISIS: We are facing a healthcare affordability crisis with inflation expected to drive costs up by 6.5 percent next year.

Quick takeaway: While there are many underlying causes, hospital consolidation and billing practices are main drivers of higher costs.

Next Steps: Congress is considering removing hospitals’ ability to charge different amounts for the same service at different locations.  This is called site-neutral payments – which would remove the incentive for hospitals to buy small practices, and in turn prevent a key factor behind rising healthcare costs.


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