John M. Clymer
National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention
As Congress and the Trump Administration negotiate over the next COVID-19 legislative package, they have an opportunity to strengthen the nation’s response to the pandemic, blunt the health impact of COVID-19 and, at the same time, increase health equity.
The National Forum and 23 partner organizations are calling on Congress and President Trump to enact emergency policies that will multiply the sites where people can get COVID-19 and influenza testing and vaccination, and bring these services closer to where people live and work. The organizations represent consumers and patients—the people—plus doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers, public health, and healthcare payers.
In an Open Letter, we urge Congress and the President to include in the COVID-19 relief bill policies that will:
- Strengthen the U.S.’ response to COVID-19 by enabling pharmacists to test and vaccinate people for COVID-19 and flu, bringing access to these vital services closer to millions of Americans. (The Department of Health and Human Services has authorized pharmacists to provide such services but, in many cases, they aren’t able to get paid. Like doctors, pharmacists can’t treat patients for free.)
- Help people reduce risk of severe COVID-19 illness by expanding access to services that control hypertension and cardiovascular disease which are linked to COVID-19 hospitalization and mortality.
- Increase health equity by making critical healthcare services more accessible in underserved places, urban and rural.
I am especially gratified by the leadership from the organizations representing physicians, nurses, and other clinicians who signed the Open Letter (and the Joint Policy Statement on Expanding Access to Healthcare Every day and During the COVID-19 Response on which the letter is based). They recognize the need to expand access to healthcare, made even more urgent by the pandemic and intolerable disparities in its burden.
The Open Letter to Congress and Joint Policy Statement are actions of the National Forum’s Value & Access Initiative. This unique collaboration enables patients, healthcare providers, public health, payers, employers, and the pharmaceutical industry to join forces to enhance health and well-being by supporting people’s access to evidence-based care that is appropriate for them.