In the 9th amendment to the COVID-19 PREP Act Declaration, pharmacies have been authorized to help with administering COVID-19 therapeutic treatments - including monoclonal antibody therapy. Licensed pharmacists, as well as pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns, have been given this expanded authority to order and administer FDA-approved treatments. This is a huge opportunity for pharmacies everywhere, allowing them to further help protect their patients and also diversify their revenue by billing for this new service.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced new guidelines for pharmacies administering COVID-19 vaccinations to at-home patients. Certain locations qualify for additional payment amounts from the CMS, including a private residence, temporary lodging, apartments in assisted-living facilities, communal living spaces, and assisted living facilities participating in the CDC's Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care program. Now, Medicare will pay the additional amount of about $35 per dose administered for a maximum of 5 services per home unit - but only when less than 10 patients are vaccinated on the same day at the same location.
Note from NCPA: *Ask your medical billing intermediary how to flag a claim when it’s submitted that it is eligible for the additional payment for a home visit.
National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)
In a significant achievement for public health in the US, the FDA has officially given full approval to the first COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine now has FDA approval for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine continues to have emergency use authorization (EUA) for those ages 12 - 15, as well as for a third dose (booster shot) in certain immunocompromised individuals. This is an important step towards increasing vaccination rates and helping combat vaccine hesitancy in the US.
US Food and Drug Administration
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is developing an emergency regulation that will require all staff working at Medicare and Medicaid-participating nursing homes to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This regulation applies to over 15,000 nursing homes across the US, and the guidance aims to go into affect in September. This is a great opportunity for independent pharmacies to reach out to their local LTC facilities and offer to vaccinate their staff. The CMS recommends that these facilities start vaccinating immediately ahead of the new guidance implementation.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
HHS Secretary Becerra has issued an amendment to the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act to expand the roles of pharmacy technicians and interns. Now, qualified pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns - under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist - can administer seasonal influenza vaccines to people age 19 and over.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that it will dedicate $4.8 billion from its American Rescue Plan to the COVID-19 Uninsured Program, which will reimburse providers for testing patients without insurance. Pharmacies can enroll in the program to receive their benefits.