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March 13: Florida Empowers Pharmacists Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Posted on in Industry Updates by Amplicare Team

Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week.

The Story

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, Florida is expanding the role of pharmacists. This week, the state Senate passed a bill that would empower pharmacists to test and treat certain conditions without the supervision of a doctor.

Why It Matters

Under HB 389, pharmacists would be able to test and treat patients for the flu and strep throat and treat chronic medical conditions. Supporters of the bill argue that the expanded role is in line with other states that have taken similar action. Allowing pharmacists to treat patients would also increase public access to necessary care, especially during public health outbreaks such as the coronavirus. However, critics have raised concerns about pharmacists not having to report to the Board of Medicine. 

HB 389 and a similar bill HB 607, which would allow nurse practitioners to provide primary care independently of doctors, still need to be approved by the governor.

Florida is not the only state making changes due to the coronavirus. Earlier this week, Kentucky issued an executive order to help pharmacists treat patients with, or at the risk of getting, COVID-19. The order enables pharmacists to fill prescriptions for 30 days, provide emergency refills if they can’t contact a patient’s doctor, and set up mobile stations by permit to increase patient access. 

The spread of COVID-19 has prompted the WHO to officially label the outbreak a pandemic. In the U.S., over 1,500 cases have been reported across the country and states are taking measures — from issuing states of emergency to banning public gatherings — to limit exposure. 

Other healthcare news to know:

1. Amazon is reportedly trying to develop a vaccine against the common cold. Fierce Biotech.

2. Independent pharmacies have launched a health insurance company and will unveil a new Medicare Part D plan this year. PR Newswire

3. A proposed settlement would give communities in West Virginia $1.25 billion and end most opioid litigation in the state. AP.

4. A new bill in Maine would expand a statewide database to include residents’ complete prescription history. WGME.

5. CMS’ new interoperability rule will require payers and hospitals to make patient health information accessible by January 2021. Fierce Healthcare.

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