To expand access to insurance-covered COVID-19 testing, the full Assembly cleared legislation 73-0-0 on Monday to authorize licensed pharmacists, consistent with federal guidance and waivers, to order and administer to anyone any type of COVID-19 test approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The bill (A-4012) would require that manufacturers of COVID-19 tests are registered with the FDA and that reasonable assurance of test authenticity is provided prior to shipments. Pharmacies would also need to provide PPE to staff in addition to putting policies and protocols in place to ensure safe social distancing is possible.
Sponsors of the bill, Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), issued the following joint statement:
“Under this legislation, we would be leveraging the strong, existing relationships between pharmacists and communities at the most local level. Drawing on these trusted sources, who are often closer to home than some of the larger testing sites, we would then see existing obstacles to testing fall away and people more actively getting tested.
“The greater the opportunity for everyone to get tested, the better our public health outcome and ability to stop a second wave in its tracks will be. With people returning to more normal social activities as restaurants, businesses, amusement parks and casinos reopen, paving the way for easy access to safe and reliable testing is not just smart, it saves lives.”
Individuals testing positive for COVID-19 would need to be advised by the pharmacist on self-isolation and given the necessary resources, such as the COVID-19 Home Care Guide. Those with high risk for health complications or experiencing severe symptoms would be advised to seek hospital or primary care treatment.
The bill passed the Senate 40-0 on May 14. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.