Butterfield Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Health Care in Underserved Communities

Jan 23, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), along with Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Congressman Ron Kind (WI-03), and Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23), introduced the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R.592), which will make it easier for Medicare patients in underserved communities to receive care.

The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive basic care such as immunizations, diabetes management, blood pressure screenings and routine checks from pharmacists.  There is currently no avenue for Medicare to directly reimburse pharmacists for providing this care.  As a result, Medicare patients in underserved areas, often rural communities, are forced to travel to the doctor for these basic services, creating a substantial burden in many cases.  The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act would allow Medicare to reimburse pharmacists who provide care in these underserved communities.

“In rural areas like many I represent, access to a primary care doctor can be challenging,” said Butterfield.  “In these cases, individuals often turn to pharmacists to provide wellness testing, help to manage chronic disease, administer immunizations, and help to reduce hospital admissions.  Pharmacists in eastern North Carolina are helping people to live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives and saving taxpayer money.  But providing those services doesn’t come without a cost to the pharmacist.  I am proud to join my colleagues on this bipartisan measure that will ensure our pharmacists can continue to provide care to those in need.”

“For many Kentuckians, the nearest pharmacy is much closer to them than the nearest doctor,” said Guthrie.  “Our senior citizens should not have to travel for basic services when their neighborhood pharmacist is already licensed to help them.  By allowing Medicare to reimburse pharmacists, seniors will have more immediate access to health care.  I was proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to help our Medicare patients.”

“We need to make it easier for people in Wisconsin’s rural areas to access health care services at a lower cost,” said Kind.  “Almost every Wisconsin community has a pharmacist and allowing pharmacists to provide patient care services as consistent with their education, training and license will increase access while lowering costs.”

“We care about ensuring access to quality, affordable health care close to home,” said Reed. “That goal is often a challenge in rural communities across our country, including parts of Western New York.  We support this bill because it is a common sense method to help ensure access to care for many that would otherwise have difficulties finding treatment options.  It’s only right that we use the tools that are available to us to expand access and get people the services they need to be well.  We appreciate the efforts by Congressmen Guthrie, Kind, Butterfield and others to bring this issue to the forefront.”