ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Dec. 16, 2020) — The National Community Pharmacists Association today urged congressional leaders to extend the Paycheck Protection Program and pass several other provisions aimed at helping independent pharmacies on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.
“As end-of-year negotiations are underway to finalize a FY21 spending package and COVID-19 relief legislation, we request that you strongly address the priorities of the independent community pharmacies, who have been serving on the front lines since March providing much-needed prescriptions and testing services to patients in their communities,” wrote NCPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Karry La Violette in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
NCPA represents more than 21,000 independently owned pharmacies, more than any of the largest corporate pharmacy chains. As essential health care providers, they’ve been open since the outbreak of COVID-19, counseling patients and making sure patients have access to their medicines. Many are also testing for coronavirus, and most are preparing to deliver the COVID-19 vaccines to millions of patients across the country.
La Violette noted that many community pharmacists serve people in rural and urban areas who don’t have many other options.
“For millions of Americans, the local pharmacist is the only accessible health care provider. They have remained open throughout the pandemic, placing themselves and their employees at risk. Many have incurred extraordinary expenses because of the virus, and their businesses need relief,“ she said.
The measures Congress must pass, according to NCPA, include:
- An extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses that keep their employees on the job
- Protection from lawsuits for pharmacies operating in good faith and following CDC guidelines
- Tax deductions for eligible expenses, like plexiglass shields and other investments made to keep patients and employees safe
- Recognition of pharmacists as health care providers so they can be compensated for the health services they provide, including COVID-19 tests
- Hazard pay for front-line workers
“Small businesses have been hit hardest by the pandemic and many are hanging on by a thread,“ La Violette said. “That’s true for the small-business pharmacies on which millions of Americans depend for basic health care. We strongly urge Congress to include these important measures as part of the next relief package.”
Founded in 1898, the National Community Pharmacists Association is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing more than 21,000 pharmacies that employ 250,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America’s most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit www.ncpa.org.