Organization Praises Elements of Operation Warp Speed COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Strategy, Notes Adequate Resources, Use of Existing LTC Pharmacy Infrastructure Keys to Success
Washington, DC – The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) today praised the rollout of the President’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine distribution plan while stressing the importance of using the existing long-term care (LTC) pharmacy infrastructure to expedite delivery to those who need the vaccine most. LTC pharmacies are an ideal, proven partner to deliver the vaccine to seniors in LTC facilities and health care workers need and must remain a critical component of the upcoming vaccine distribution plan.
SCPC also urged the Administration and Congress to direct relief funds to LTC pharmacies to ensure they have the resources needed to quickly deliver the vaccine to patients and health care workers in LTC facilities once it becomes available.
“As scientists, pharmaceutical companies, policymakers and the Administration continue to aggressively pursue the much needed COVID-19 vaccine, qualified and experienced LTC pharmacists stand ready to ensure proper distribution and administration of vaccines to residents and health care workers in LTC facilities,” said SCPC President and CEO Alan Rosenbloom. “LTC pharmacies are part of a proven, existing infrastructure for vaccine distribution and administration, and it would be duplicative to superimpose a new or different system during a crisis, and effective distribution will require engaging all LTC pharmacies, not just one or two.”
Effective preparation for and management of vaccine distribution will require significant upfront investment. For example, one likely vaccine needs cold chain distribution that requires keeping the vaccine at extremely low temperatures (minus 94°C).
“LTC pharmacies – and the entire supply chain – must have the resources needed to prepare for rapid deployment,” added Rosenbloom.
Congress appropriated $175 billion as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support health care providers in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, even with Phase 2 of the program recently expanding the list of providers who qualify for assistance equal to 2% of annual revenues, financial relief for LTC pharmacies still remains in limbo.
“The longer this uncertainty drags on, the more dire the situation becomes for LTC pharmacies providing essential medication management and patient care to millions of residents, who are mostly vulnerable seniors,” said Rosenbloom.
Like many other providers, LTC pharmacies have been hit hard by the pandemic, with revenues down more than 20% for Medicare patients and 15-20% for long-term living patients. At the same time, infection control and other operational costs have increased by 10% or more. These troubling trends threaten the stability of the entire LTC pharmacy industry—and, ultimately, both patient care and successful vaccine deployment.
“HHS still has upwards of $40 billion left to allocate. With the health and well-being of America’s seniors on the line. We simply cannot afford to wait any longer. We need this funding immediately to ensure our seniors and those who serve them in LTC facilities across the country have prompt access to the COVID-19 vaccine once available,” Rosenbloom concluded.
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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.