On Wednesday, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law that will allow Iowa pharmacist to test their patients for virus such as the flu, strep throat or COVID-19 and treat them immediately.
Casey Ficek is the Vice President of public affairs for the Iowa Pharmacy Association. He said this will expand access to health care across the state.
"We are expanding out our availability of trained professionals who can help address. And cast a wider net when you’re looking at bringing in the population to receive health care," said Ficek.
All of Iowa's 99 counties have local pharmacies, but not all have the same access to health care facilities. In fact, 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy.
Owner of Blairs Ferry Family Pharmacy, Dough Niedermann, said this expands the availability of trained professionals to help with the need in Iowa.
"These opportunities I think it is a great thing for us as a profession, but for us so we can help the population with their health care needs,' said Niedermann.
The Iowa Board of Pharmacy creates a list of guidelines that a pharmacist has to meet. Ficek is confident that included in the state wide protocol will be a baseline level of knowledge and education to ensure the test and treatment is provided safely.
The law also adds a level of convivence with eliminating a trip to a heath care facility if needed. Children ages six and up are eligible to get tested by a pharmacist.
"The law goes down to age six and above so looking at those kiddos who might not be feeling too great and a parent who might be short on time; no need to make an appointment likely. You can just walk-in to your nearest local pharmacy and you’ll be able to know right away whether or not you may have strep or flu or COVID," said Ficek.
The law goes into effect July 1st. Patients will not see the services until fall of 2021 as the Iowa Board of Pharmacy is expected to finalize rules implementing the legislation. Part of the is how much test and treat will cost for patients.
"There are some unanswered questions in terms of what the reimbursement structure and coverage will look like but I expect that payers and an even Iowa Medicaid will look at this as an opportunity to continually expand access to their members but also potentially do that at a lower cost," said Ficek.