SCPC Praises Bipartisan “CARA 2.0 Act of 2018″, Stresses Importance of Recognizing Urgent Medication Needs of LTC Facility-based Seniors

Washington, DC — In praising U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for introducing the “CARA 2.0 Act of 2018” to reauthorize and expand the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) today urged lawmakers to follow precedent established in the 2016 law by preserving the need of seniors in LTC facilities to retain ready access to key, quality of life medications.

Specifically, Alan G. Rosenbloom, President and CEO of SCPC, applauded the ongoing leadership of Senator Portman and his colleagues in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, observing that Section 3 of the proposed legislation limits opioid dispensing to three-day doses. While there is an exception for hospice care in this new CARA 2.0 bill, there is no similar exception for LTC facilities — as was the case in the 2016 bill.

Said Rosenbloom: “SCPC commends Senator Portman and his colleagues for introducing this important bipartisan legislation. Opioid use remains an alarming health care and public policy crisis, and sensible limits on prescription access make sense.  As with CARA 1.0 in 2016, Congress undoubtedly will fine-tune the bill going forward.  Patients in long-term care (LTC) settings are at very low risk for opioid abuse, and those prescribed opioids suffer intense and severe pain which mean that some dispensing limits inadvertently threaten effective pain management. It simply makes sense to add an exemption for patients in LTC facilities. As we successfully worked with lawmakers to craft the final 2016 bill, we again will work to ensure CARA 2.0 strikes the right balance between protecting our citizens and communities on the one hand, and protecting the ability of LTC pharmacies to meet and manage the medication needs of LTC residents on the other.”

More broadly, Rosenbloom pointed out, a 3-day dosing exemption “is a vital provision that will specifically recognize the unique characteristics of the long-term care patient population and the distinctions between LTC pharmacies and better-known retail pharmacies.” He said the additional requirements already imposed on LTC pharmacies under Medicare and Medicaid Requirements of Participation and Medicare Part D rules are especially important to recognize in the broader health policy discussion.

The SCPC leader pointed out the nation’s LTC pharmacies already provide stringent oversight of prescription drug dispensing and usage — including even greater oversight of Schedule II drugs like opioids dispensed to LTC patients, and are in a unique position to ensure the ongoing integrity of the Medicare Part D program.

Concluded Rosenbloom: “Patients in LTC facilities pose virtually no risk of opioid abuse and have much greater pain management issues than the general population. LTC pharmacies maintain stringent oversight of patients’ entire drug regimens. The methods of packaging, dispensing, and tracking medications — and monitoring usage in LTC facilities — results in LTC pharmacies satisfying extraordinarily high safety and compliance standards. The combination of a different patient population and greater pharmacy oversight and management warrant an exemption for this patient group.  We look forward to working with Senator Portman and his colleagues to perfect and pass this key bill.”

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The SCPC is the national association for independent LTC pharmacies. Our member pharmacies provide care and services to patients in LTC facilities across the country occupying approximately 675,000 beds. Visit seniorcarepharmacies.org to learn more.