Citing Threat to Seniors’ Nursing Home Care and Pandemic-Generated Economic Crisis, SCPC Letter to HHS Sec Azar Seeks LTC Pharmacy Relief Funding
America’s Key Front-Line Nursing Home Pharmacies Eligible for, Warrant HHS-Administered Aid
Washington, DC – Noting front-line nursing home pharmacies provide essential medication and clinical services to the nation’s most vulnerable seniors, the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) issued a letter to Health and Human Service (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar seeking emergency relief funding to prevent nursing home patients from losing uninterrupted access to the prescription medications essential to their well-being. Each of the nation’s more than one million nursing home patients takes an average of 8-9 prescription medications a day.
“LTC pharmacies, and the consultant pharmacists whom they employ, truly are on the front lines of the COVID-19 emergency,” wrote SCPC President and CEO Alan G. Rosenbloom. “Patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are among the most vulnerable and concentrated at-risk population in the country — a sad reality reflected in the fact that more than twenty-five percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred among nursing home patients.”
“Congress has appropriated $175 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF), which the Department administers. LTC pharmacies unquestionably are entitled to assistance from the PHSSEF. They are enrolled as providers or suppliers in every state Medicaid program in the country,” Rosenbloom continued.
Due to the pandemic, LTC pharmacies are facing a deepening financial crisis. Unplanned costs for additional personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing, employee support, and medication supplies, coupled with plummeting nursing home admissions, according to an SCPC member survey, increased LTC pharmacy costs by 6 percent and reduced revenues by 20 percent in March alone.
“It is essential that the Department provide LTC pharmacies with financial assistance based on patient revenues to assure that they receive the necessary funding to preserve access of crucial medications to patients in LTC facilities,” Rosenbloom writes.
“This situation – especially substantial revenue declines – has worsened dramatically in April and likely will continue to do so in May,” he continued. “If there is widespread LTC pharmacy failure, a real possibility in the coming months is interrupted supplies of prescription drugs for nursing home residents and increased risk for patients in all LTC facilities.”
LTC pharmacies are unique in the health care delivery system. Sometimes known as “closed-door pharmacies,” they dispense an average 8-9 prescription drugs a day to each nursing home resident. They also provide related clinical consulting services crucial to high-quality medication management for a medically compromised patient population.
One LTC pharmacy, Rosenbloom noted, may dispense thousands of daily prescriptions across an entire state, so widespread economic failure in the LTC pharmacy sector would endanger thousands of people across the country most at risk from the COVID-19 virus.
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.
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