The Provider Relief Fund’s Final Distributions Must Not Leave Out Long-Term Care Pharmacies…Again

DATE: June 14, 2021

Essential Care by Long-Term Care Pharmacies Has Been Ignored for Too Long

Washington, DC – Following the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee hearing with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, and the recent coverage of the Provider Relief Fund’s next – and possibly final – distribution, the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) is calling on HHS and the U.S. Congress to publicly commit to prioritizing long-term care (LTC) pharmacies for relief. SCPC President and CEO Alan Rosenbloom offered the following statement:

“Residents in skilled nursing facilities and senior living communities bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite personal risk and plunging revenues, LTC pharmacies made sure that residents in facilities maintained uninterrupted access to essential prescription medications and related clinical and care services, particularly important since the typical LTC facility resident takes 12 prescription medications a day. Now LTC pharmacies have implemented a very effective vaccine program, causing COVID-19 infection and death rates of LTC residents to plummet.

“While the health crisis is looking better in LTC facilities, the pandemic’s financial crisis hit LTC pharmacies hard, with costs 10% higher and revenues 11% lower than pre-pandemic levels. Lawmakers assured health care providers they would receive relief from the economic impact of the pandemic. For most health care providers, relief did come through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Provider Relief Fund. For example, LTC facilities who care for the same people as LTC pharmacies, received $12 billion from the Fund last year and seem poised for another well-deserved allotment soon.

“Unfortunately, LTC pharmacies largely have been excluded from relief so far. Those that applied for relief last year had very different results. Some LTC pharmacy applications simply were denied, some resulted in disproportionately low relief, and HHS clawed back payments that some received. Others did not apply because HHS sent mixed signals regarding LTC pharmacy eligibility for relief, which continued through all of 2020.  

“In his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Secretary Becerra reiterated his commitment to transparency and to rectifying any disparate or unfair treatment providers received in Provider Relief Fund decisions last year.  If any group of providers deserves such corrective action, it is LTC pharmacies who have been instrumental in caring for LTC residents and fighting this virus.

“The lack of relief funds cannot continue indefinitely without impacting LTC pharmacies’ abilities to provide the unique care and services required for older people and people with disabilities living in LTC facilities and settings. It is essential that Secretary Becerra commit a portion of the remaining $24 billion in Provider Relief Fund to LTC pharmacies. Abandoning LTC pharmacies is akin to ignoring the needs of our most vulnerable citizens—it is truly a matter of life and death.”

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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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