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‘Remote’ Pharmacies Plan Gets Senate OK

Pill bottles in a pharmacy
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Senate Health Policy Committee gave unanimous approval Tuesday to a bill that would create in law so-called “remote dispensing site pharmacies” and allow managed-care plans to use them in meeting network adequacy requirements.

Committee Chairwoman Dana Young, R-Tampa, told the panel that when she first saw the bill (SB 848) she was unsure about whether to support it but said she now backs the proposal, suggesting that it offers a “neat way” to provide increased access to pharmaceutical services that aren’t always available in rural areas.

“I love the ability for rural areas to be able to have pharmaceutical services which they don’t have now,” she said of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring. The bill is supported by the Florida Association of Health Plans, though it is opposed by smaller community pharmacies.

Grimsley told the Senate panel that the bill wouldn’t change underlying relationships or oversight requirements that pharmacists must have with pharmacy technicians and that licensed pharmacists would need to remotely supervise the registered pharmacy technicians.

Remote dispensing pharmacies would be in rural areas and at least 10 miles from community pharmacies. Before working at a remote dispensing site, a registered pharmacy technician would have to complete at least 2,080 hours of experience at a pharmacy within the preceding two years.

The Senate bill still needs to go through the Appropriations and Rules committees before it could head to the full Senate. Its House counterpart (HB 679) was approved by a House health care panel last week and now heads to the House Health & Human Services Committee.