AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Independent pharmacies will soon be a part of the national pharmacy network in the United States.
That’s one of the aims of a federal commission headed by Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee, who is proposing legislation to ensure independent pharmacies get access to the medications they need, the Associated Press reported.
She also wants the federal government to expand access to prescription drugs through the Medicare program.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is scheduled to vote on a proposed rule for independent pharmacies that would allow them to sell prescription drugs on their own websites and through a network of pharmacies.
That rule is the first step toward establishing a national network of independent pharmacies, according to the AP.
The rules, which are likely to be the subject of much debate, would allow independent pharmacies to buy prescription drugs from the pharmacies they’re affiliated with, rather than relying on a third-party seller.
The issue of independent pharmacists has been a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail, with Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton saying they will allow them into the country.
The idea has gained steam in recent years, but it has been complicated by restrictions that have kept it out of pharmacies, like the requirement that they have at least one doctor’s office in the state and that they get written authorization from an independent pharmacy’s owner.
The move would allow for some small and independent pharmacies with few or no employees to get some of the most basic medications without the hassle of a storefront pharmacy.
Black, who represents Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District, said she wanted to protect the independent pharmacy industry, which accounts for about 7 percent of the total U..
S.-based pharmacist workforce.
She said independent pharmacies make up more than half of all independent pharmacy employees, and many are low-income or minorities.
The proposed rule, called the Independent Pharmacy Patient Access and Patient Education Act, would help small independent pharmacies like her in making the case for their ability to get medications.
It would also allow for the establishment of a pilot program in rural and low-population areas.
Black said her bill would create a program that would let independent pharmacies provide medication to low- or moderate-income people, providing them with their medication at no cost.
She’d also allow them, if they so choose, to set up a pharmacy with a small workforce.
“I’m hopeful this will encourage other independent pharmacies in the country to join us and join in providing affordable medication to their communities,” she said.
“If it isn’t happening in other states, it’s going to happen in the U., and we have to do something about it.”