CARES Act Funds Required for Economically Stressed Front-Line Nursing Home Pharmacists

SCPC: HHS Urged to Allocate Funds Necessary to Sustain Seniors’ Essential Prescription Medication Needs

Washington, DC – Warning that key nursing home pharmacies providing essential medications and clinical management expertise to seniors in nursing homes risk widespread business failure if worsening economic circumstances continue, the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) today said the nation’s long-term care (LTC) pharmacies must receive their fair share of the $175 billion appropriated as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act”.

“The LTC pharmacies on the front-line of the nursing home crisis face severe economic strains that, by extension, threaten our most vulnerable seniors’ ongoing access to the prescription drugs and medication management expertise they require throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” warned Alan G. Rosenbloom, President and CEO of SCPC.

According to data from SCPC’s national membership, the COVID-19 pandemic response has increased LTC pharmacy costs by 6 percent and reduced revenues by 15 percent in the last month alone. Revenue losses have worsened in April 2020, and will continue for months, Rosenbloom predicted, as admissions to nursing homes and other LTC facilities drop, and prescription medication volume continues to plummet.

Rosenbloom said the CARES Act appropriated $175 billion for the Public Health and Social Service Emergency Fund to provide grants to “eligible health care providers,” including Medicare or Medicaid enrolled suppliers and providers. As registered providers in state Medicaid programs, LTC pharmacies are eligible for emergency CARES Act relief from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Medicare accounts for a majority of LTC pharmacy revenues through contracts with skilled nursing facility (SNF) Part A and Part D plans, but they are not Medicare-enrolled providers. Medicaid, on the other hand, accounts for only a small percentage of revenues for most LTC pharmacies.

“We are deeply concerned HHS may not be aware of LTC pharmacy eligibility under state Medicaid programs. Even if HHS understands LTC pharmacy eligibility, LTC pharmacies may not receive full relief if the Department fails to appreciate the complex contractor relationships LTC pharmacies have with nursing homes and prescription drug plans under Medicare. For the benefit of seniors’ ongoing care, HHS must develop a payment metric that recognizes these circumstances,” he continued.

Rosenbloom noted that HHS could quickly develop a process to distribute funds to LTC pharmacies based on an easily calculated metric, such as net patient revenues.

“There is precedent, as HHS has already employed such metrics in the second phase of emergency fund disbursement announced last week. We believe the public-at-large strongly supports vulnerable nursing home patients’ uninterrupted access to the 8-9 daily prescriptions required to maintain their health. We call on Congress to help LTC pharmacies protect nursing home residents by demanding that HHS act now,” Rosenbloom concluded. “There exists a clear and present danger to these residents if HHS does not ensure the ongoing viability of LTC pharmacies’ life-saving front-line care and expertise unless the CARES Act aid they qualify for is provided.”

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The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) is the only national organization exclusively representing the interests of LTC pharmacies. Its members operate in all 50 states and serve 850,000 patients daily in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities across the country. Visit seniorcarepharmacies.org  to learn more.