Washington, DC — In praising passage of HR 6, which includes dozens of bills to fight the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse, the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) today said it looks forward to working with the U.S. Senate and Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to advance a key long-term care (LTC) pharmacy provision recognizing the unique needs and medication challenges facing LTC patients.
“SCPC thanks the U.S. House for passing an array of bills to address the nation’s opioid abuse crisis late last month,” stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, President and CEO of SCPC, the only federal advocacy organization devoted exclusively to the interests of the nation’s LTC pharmacies and the patients they serve. “We commend lawmakers and bipartisan House leadership for recognizing the LTC patient population is distinct from the general population. LTC pharmacies have far more intensive medication management and ongoing clinical responsibilities for these patients, and several key provisions in the package have been modified to address these needs.”
One bill in the House package, sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), exempts patients in hospice programs from a technical requirement, but the House did not have time to add such an exemption for LTC patients. Rosenbloom noted, however, that neither Mr. Roskam nor others in the House have any concerns about the proposed modification. “SCPC thanks the entire House for recognizing the unique requirements of seniors residing in hospice and LTC settings — and how they require different treatment compared to other patients. We remain confident that the one remaining area of concern will be addressed before the Senate finalizes a unified opioid crisis response package.”
In the overall debate on opioid availability, Rosenbloom noted sensible limits on prescription access should be enacted as soon as possible. “Patients in LTC settings, like those in hospice care, are at extremely low risk for opioid abuse,” he observed. “Compared to the general population, the LTC patient population has a much greater prevalence of multiple chronic conditions, suffers severe chronic pain and breakthrough pain more often, takes significantly more prescription medications each day, faces a higher incidence of adverse drug reactions to opioid alternatives, and a higher prevalence of complications from polypharmacy,” Rosenbloom stated.
Rosenbloom noted that Senators Toomey and McCaskill have co-sponsored a bill similar to Rep. Roskam’s bill, and said SCPC appreciates the fact Senators Toomey and McCaskill understand the need to treat LTC patients appropriately. Sen. Toomey, he noted, led Senate efforts to treat Medicare Part D beneficiaries differently in passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA 1.0) of 2016. “We are confident Senators Toomey and McCaskill will do all they can to assure that distinct treatment of LTC pharmacies remains consistent with that precedent as the Senate advances a comprehensive legislative response this year,” the SCPC leader continued.
Rosenbloom pointed out that LTC pharmacies maintain stringent oversight of patients’ entire drug regimens. “The methods of specialized and patient-specific packaging, delivery, dispensing, and tracking medications — combined with ongoing clinical responsibilities — results in LTC pharmacies satisfying extraordinarily high safety and compliance standards,” he continued.
“With the Senate now working to pass its own bill, we look forward to collaborating with the HELP and Finance Committees — and key lawmakers like Senators Toomey and McCaskill — to assure that LTC patients receive the appropriate pain management protocols,” Rosenbloom concluded. “We hope both chambers can proceed expeditiously to pass legislation to address this urgent public health issue.”
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 750,000 patients daily in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities across the country. Visit seniorcarepharmacies.org to learn more.