by James A. Bacon

Under a bill signed by Governor Ralph Northam today, pharmacists will be able to provide a wider array of services to adults such as writing prescriptions for the flu, administering COVID vaccines, and prescribing controlled substances for HIV. A separate bill signed into law will expand the scope of practice for physician assistants.

“It’s long past due for us to eliminate barriers for people to get basic care,” said Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, who submitted the bills. “Pharmacists and physicians assistants are health care professionals who can and should be able to provide basic services. For people who don’t have a primary care provider, this will make a huge difference when it comes to treating basic illnesses.”

“As Vice Chair of the Committee on Health, Welfare, and Institutions,” said Rasoul in a press release, “I’ve seen the structural problems in our health system that have prevented Virginians from accessing care even before the most recent pandemic. This bill removes barriers while ensuring safe, quality care for patients.”

Specifically, HB 2079 bill allows pharmacists to provide services for adults, including:

  • Testing and writing prescriptions for the flu, strep, tuberculosis, and urinary tract infections,
  • Administering vaccines that currently have emergency use authorization from the CDC, like the COVID vaccines, as well as other vaccines for certain diseases, and
  • Prescribing controlled substances for pre- and post-exposure to HIV.

The bill passed the Senate unopposed and the House with only two opposing votes.

HB 2039 allows a physician assistant to enter into a practice agreement with more than one patient care team physician, and limits the liability of physicians for the actions or inactions of a physician assistant.

Bacon’s bottom line: Licensure laws sometimes place unnecessarily tight restrictions on the services that medical professionals can provide. As physician shortages become ever more pronounced, those licensure restrictions make it increasingly difficult for lower-income Virginians to access health care. Traditionally, Virginia has addressed access issues by throwing money at the problem. Rasoul’s bill takes an alternate approaching: peeling back regulation. How refreshing.

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8 responses to “Relaxing Restrictions on Pharmacists”

  1. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    Dr. Governor needs to make sure the distribution of Pharmacists is Equitable. He may want to relax the licensing requirements to ensure the Equity.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      My guy on the corner included?

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    Credit where credit due. If a certain other party did this, they’d be hooting and hollering about doing their anti-regulation thing!

  3. Richard Smith Avatar
    Richard Smith

    And why is there a physician shortage when we know the Free Market will provide enough…
    Government regulations produce shortages,,, and winners and losers…

  4. Atlas Rand Avatar
    Atlas Rand

    This is nothing more than a giveaway to the pharmacy companies like CVS. Pharmacists don’t want this additional responsibility, nor are they given time to do these extra responsibilities. This is chain pharmacies seeking to Bill insurance companies for pharmacist time as a provider, and this is the toe in the door these companies have been looking for. Pharmacists are not paid as providers, nor are they insured as providers. Just recently, my wife who is a staff pharmacist for CVS had her hours cut. Keep in mind that she nearly daily fills over 1000 prescriptions in a 13 hour day. She’s checking prescriptions that people are taking at an average of approximately 45 seconds per prescription. This doesn’t even take into account the time in the day she spends counseling patients, giving vaccines, talking to doctors, etc. and CVS is cutting her hours to save money, think of that on safety for patients. Every board of pharmacy in every state in this country is under regulatory capture, with cvs and Walgreens executives on the board, and every state board ignores pharmacist complaints about unsafe working conditions and patient outcomes due to these companies milking every last drop of profit they can from these folks, and our Dr Governor sees fit to give them more.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      It”s CVS company not the pharmacists, right?

      Do we trust CVS to organize and staff appropriate to the demands of the business ? If not, then we expect government to do it?

  5. Atlas Rand Avatar
    Atlas Rand

    @LarrytheG Dr governor coonman is being given his due credit for a terrible bill that will further worsen patient outcomes and shows how out of touch with the world he is. Then again who could expect more from a doctor who stands by and watches his patients die…

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Let’s see. Did it pass the GA with votes on both sides before he signed it?

      Do you support representative government?

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