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Trump is empowering local pharmacies — and transforming health care for the better

Trump is empowering local pharmacies — and transforming health care for the better
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President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE announced Friday that the federal government will partner with the private sector to cut red tape and clear the way for safe, effective, convenient and affordable community testing for the coronavirus. This makes perfect sense. The president does not want to hear the ten ways things cannot get done — he wants to hear the ten ways in which it will be done. If it is moral, ethical, legal and needed, then let’s do it without delay.

We know that 95 percent of Americans live within five miles of a retail pharmacy. Pharmacists are the most accessible health care provider for many Americans, and they already perform a wide range of health services beyond prescriptions and over-the-counter medical products. Within the scope of practice of pharmacists is the ability to conduct health and wellness testing, to manage chronic diseases and medication, to administer immunizations, to work and partner with others in the health care frontlines to advance health and wellness, and to help reduce the need for doctor, clinic or hospital visits.

The more a local pharmacy can do for the individual, the more burden is taken off the delivery of necessary, vital medical attention to those who need it most.

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Now is the time to allow local pharmacies to step up, in light of the coronavirus crisis, to take the burden off the medical delivery system nationwide. There is no doubt that, very soon, Americans will be able to get tested at their local pharmacies.

The good news is that local pharmacies all across America, from cities and suburbs to rural areas, can seamlessly ramp up quickly to provide coronavirus testing.

The coronavirus danger has a silver lining: The president and his task force have changed the way we respond to viral and pandemic events. They are empowering existing networks of pharmacies to immediately become engaged in detection, testing, managing and reporting while providing needed services locally to those most at risk.

Testing and clinical services provided at pharmacy locations will continue to evolve after the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The pharmacy clinical-services model positions large national-brand pharmacies, as well community pharmacies, as a key resource and delivery center for health care services.

This effort requires the cooperation of large retailers, small, medium and large labs, and IT services and providers. We also need to make sure all services in the chain of delivery are diversified to protect the ability to provide services uninterrupted.

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This newly created network of testing and patient management will go on and be expanded long after this coronavirus has been eradicated. This will mean that Americans will have the ability to access needed medical services delivered through their neighborhood pharmacy as opposed to a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital. This will save money, time and improve the delivery of health care in America.

The federal government, however, can only do so much. We need the same cooperation we have seen on the federal level replicated on the state and local levels as well. We need uniform protocols that make it easy for pharmacies to deliver services closest to the patients affected without delay, bureaucracy, overcharging or unreliable, risky ways.

The strength of America lies in her ability to innovate and problem-solve. The best ideas and solutions come from a government and a private sector that come together for the common good.

Bradley A. Blakeman was a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. A principal of the 1600 Group, a strategic communications firm, he is an adjunct professor of public policy and international affairs at Georgetown University and a frequent guest on Fox News and Fox Business.