CSHP Legislative Update – May 2020
Submitted by Thomas Buckley, RPh, MPH, CSHP Legislative Chair
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect healthcare and virtually every aspect of our lives.
At the time of this writing, the Connecticut General Assembly may be going back into a special session sometime this summer, although it is unclear what type of legislation may be deliberated. There have been multiple considerations of how pharmacy could be impacted and play a more expanded more role during the pandemic, with potential implications of a lasting impact after the pandemic period. The Governor’s office and the various health agencies have been contacted by numerous entities within and outside of the state, with potential pharmacy public health roles at both the local and state level. ASHP has created a document with a sample list of these roles that can be accessed here.
On April 8, 2020 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a guidance that licensed pharmacists are authorized to order and administer FDA-approved COVID-19 tests, including serology tests. The guidance adds pharmacists as “covered persons” under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, and frees them from liability “with respect to all claims for loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from, the administration or use of FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests.” The guidance, issued by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), states that pharmacists, “in partnership with other health care providers, are well-positioned to aid COVID-19 testing expansion.” OASH, which has jurisdiction to categorize professionals as “covered persons” under the PREP Act, highlights pharmacists’ established and trusting relationships with patients, connection to and ability to make referrals to medical providers and hospitals, and accessibility.
OASH’s April 8 guidance specifies that authority is granted to “licensed pharmacists,” and is therefore not expected to preempt state scope of practice laws. Point-of-care testing for COVID-19 is critical to the national pandemic response. Some states already permitted pharmacists, under their scope of practice or through collaborative practice agreements, to order and administer these tests. Pennsylvania, which previously allowed pharmacists to order and administer tests, has taken emergency measures to grant pharmacists explicit authority to order and administer COVID-19 tests. States like Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, and, most recently New York, issued executive orders that permit pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests.
Just as this newsletter was going to press, the Connecticut Governor announced this Executive Order: Pharmacists are Permitted to Order and Administer Food and Drug Administration Approved Tests for COVID-19. It specifically that “pharmacists licensed pursuant to Chapter 400j of the Connecticut General Statutes are expressly permitted to order COVID-19 diagnostic tests consistent with Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), including serology tests that do not require venipuncture, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized.” Here is a link to the actual Executive Order: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7KK.pdf?la=en
State-level COVID-19 response is a rapidly changing situation as local healthcare providers respond to patient surges and the demand for testing, so we will try to keep you informed with as much up-to-date information as possible. ASHP also provides an excellent COVID-19 resource center, which includes an “Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19-Related Treatments”, the updated 5/4/2020 version can be found here.
We are excited to have an active legislative advocacy team of Steph Luon, Cory Heck, and Tom Buckley. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions, concerns, and most importantly with your willingness to reach out to our policymakers when needed.