LTC exempted from newly-passed drug bill’s ‘lock-in’ provision

A bill passed by the Senate on Thursday is earning praise from a leading long-term care pharmacy group for exempting nursing homes from its controversial “lock-in” provision that limits Medicare beneficiaries to using one pharmacy.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 allows the U.S. Attorney General to award states, local governments and nonprofit organizations grants to address the “national epidemics” of heroin use and prescription opioid abuse.

The draft bill, introduced last year, earned criticism for its “lock-in” clause that would require Medicare Part D beneficiaries to use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions. The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition spoke out about the provision, saying existing legislation already protected beneficiaries in certain care settings from drug abuse.

The final version of CARA recognizes the challenges facing beneficiaries in long-term care facilities by exempting those providers from the lock-in clause, said SCPC President Alan Rosenbloom.

“This is a highly significant provision in that it specifically recognizes the unique characteristics of the long-term care patient population and the distinctions between specialized long-term care pharmacies and more common retail pharmacies — particularly the additional requirements imposed on LTC pharmacies under Medicare rules,” Rosenbloom wrote in a press release.

The final CARA bill, which now moves to the House, “strikes the right balance” between protecting communities from the opioid epidemic and protecting the needs of long-term care residents, Rosenbloom added.

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