Long-term care pharmacy leaders call for COVID-19 relief from Congress

McKnight’s Senior Living

Kimberly Bonvissuto– July 14, 2020

Leaders from 12 of the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacies sent a letter to leaders in Congress on Friday asking for $350 million in financial relief to meet challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition, which represents 75% of the long-term care pharmacy sector, cited significant revenue losses and higher costs due to the pandemic in serving assisted living communities, nursing homes and other communal settings where older adults live.

“Due to the pandemic, LTC pharmacy revenues have dropped 25% while costs increased 6% from March to May,” the letter reads, citing unplanned costs for additional personal protective equipment, employee support and medication supplies, as well as higher delivery expenses. “Without financial relief, residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may face interruptions in access to essential, life-saving medications.”

The requested $350 million in relief represents 2% of long-term care pharmacy annual patient care revenues of $17.5 billion, which is the benchmark relief percentage the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established for other providers, the organization said.

SCPC President and CEO Alan Rosenbloom said that policymakers have provided $4.9 billion in COVID-19 Medicare relief funds for nursing homes and $15 billion in funds for Medicaid providers, and that HHS is working on relief for assisted living providers, but long-term care pharmacies — which he called the “essential behind-the-scenes partner” — largely have been ignored.

He also said HHS created new obstacles to relief for LTC pharmacies in June by excluding prescription sales from patient revenues and disproportionately limited relief compared with other provider types.

Long-term care pharmacies “cannot be silent about the outsized impacts the pandemic has had on our sector and our need for immediate relief to fulfill this nation’s promise to our most vulnerable citizens,” the letter said.

About 2 million Americans in long-term care facilities rely on long-term care pharmacies to manage and deliver 12 to 13 different medications daily to each resident, according to SCPC.

“The financial situation for long-term care pharmacies mirrors the financial situation for nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” Rosenbloom said. “Congress must address this issue promptly to ensure LTC pharmacies have access to the relief they need. The absence of this timely, consistent pharmacy support from LTC pharmacies would make the dire circumstances LTC facilities continue to work through much worse.”

Companies represented on the letter were PharmcareUSA, Guardian Pharmacy Services, PharMerica, NHS Management, Consonus, Forum Extended Care Services, M Chest Institutional Pharmacy Group, HealthDirect Institutional Pharmacy Services, PharmScript, Remedi SeniorCare and PCA Pharmacy.