Federal Government Calls on Long-Term Care Pharmacies to Manage COVID-19 Booster Shots While Denying Them Resources to Do So
SCPC Urges HHS and Congress to Assure that Long-Term Care Pharmacies are Prioritized in Final Distribution of the Provider Relief Fund
Washington, DC – Long-term care (LTC) pharmacies are expected to provide timely COVID-19 vaccine boosters to LTC facility residents in the coming weeks, despite the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) continued inaction on further distributions from the Provider Relief Fund. This moment underscores the mounting need for LTC pharmacies to receive prompt and proportionate assistance. The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) President and CEO Alan Rosenbloom provided the following statement:
“Even as the CDC, HHS, and others in the Administration are relying on long-term care (LTC) pharmacies to bear the lion’s share of responsibility for getting COVID-19 vaccine boosters into the arms of LTC facility residents, many LTC pharmacies have yet to receive any federal assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress created the Provider Relief Fund to offset the economic impact of the pandemic—higher operating costs and lower revenues—among the heroic providers that continue to provide health care to Americans.
“LTC pharmacies won’t think twice about providing boosters because they know it’s life-saving care that they are well positioned to deliver. Indeed, when the federal government’s contracts with two national retail chains ended earlier this year, LTC pharmacies assumed the responsibility for getting vaccines to LTC facility residents who did not receive them in the initial phases of the vaccination effort. SCPC members provide these indispensable services despite estimates that reimbursement for the initial round of vaccines covered only 60% of their costs.
“Congress designed the Provider Relief Fund to compensate providers for the economic impact of the pandemic, precisely for exact moments like this when providing timely vaccine boosters are crucial to millions of vulnerable Americans living in LTC facilities. However, HHS did not acknowledge that LTC pharmacies are eligible for relief until April 2021, more than five months after the last application period for assistance closed. This ambiguity led to only a handful of LTC pharmacies receiving relief in 2020, and many of those that did saw HHS recoup those payments without explanation.
“The message to the LTC pharmacy community is clear: lead the booster vaccination efforts and protect the lives of the most vulnerable Americans and do so to your financial detriment but don’t count on the federal government to help. SCPC strongly urges HHS and Congress to address this unconscionable situation by providing LTC pharmacies the assistance from the Provider Relief Fund they deserve and desperately need.”
About Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition
The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) is the only national organization exclusively representing the interests of LTC pharmacies, representing 75% of the sector overall. 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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