“Fair Share” of Funds to Long-Term Care Pharmacies Needed to Sustain Nursing Home Patients’ Key Prescription Medication Needs
Washington, DC – Reiterating the importance of front-line nursing home pharmacies to sustaining vulnerable seniors’ prescription medication needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) today praised a National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging “expeditious distribution of Congressionally appropriated funds to critical Medicaid providers.”
Alan G. Rosenbloom, President and CEO of SCPC, noted the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (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, long-term care (LTC) pharmacies are eligible for emergency CARES Act relief from HHS — and we concur with NAMD that the financial stability of Medicaid is critical to protecting the health care needs of vulnerable populations,” Rosenbloom said.
“The LTC pharmacies on the front-line of the nursing home crisis face severe economic strain that, by extension, threaten our most vulnerable seniors’ ongoing access to the prescription drugs and the medication management expertise they require,” he continued.
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 likely continue for months, Rosenbloom predicted, as admissions to nursing homes and other LTC facilities drop and prescription volume continues to plummet.
Rosenbloom stressed that SCPC remains concerned HHS may not be aware of LTC pharmacy eligibility under state Medicaid programs. Even if HHS understands LTC pharmacy eligibility, he said, 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. SCPC recently sent a letter to Secretary Azar expressing these concerns.
“For the benefit of seniors’ ongoing care, HHS must develop a payment metric that recognizes these circumstances,” he continued. “The department 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,” Rosenbloom said. “It is critical that we receive public support to continue our ability to provide uninterrupted access to the 8-9 medications vulnerable nursing home patients require to maintain their health. We call on Congress to help LTC pharmacies protect nursing home residents by demanding that HHS expeditiously appropriate CARES Act funding,” Rosenbloom concluded.
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.