LTC Pharmacy News
December 2020
More Pharmacies Added to the LTC Pharmacy Directory
We continue to update the LTC Pharmacy Directory, adding more pharmacies each week.
Don't miss the opportunity make sure your pharmacy is listed and claim your free listing now.

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Expanding LTC Pharmacy Access to More Medicare Enrollees
During the early days of implementation of the Medicare Drug Benefit LTC pharmacy executives worked with CMS officials to find a way to accommodate the needs of LTC residents. On of the products of that collaboration was the CMS Long-Term Care Guidance, which established standards for health plans for the provision of pharmacy services to residents of LTC facilities.

Could that document be the basis for expanding access to LTC pharmacy services to assisted living and other congregate-living arrangements.

Federal Updates
HHS Announces $1.1 Billion in Nursing Home Money
The Dept. of Health and Human Services announced the completion of its review of Phase 3 applications for the provider relief fund. As a result, nursing homes are in line to receive $1.1 billion in relief based on the amount they have lost related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Total provider funding will reach $24.5 billion for all healthcare providers.

CDCRecommends LTC Residents and Healthcare Workers Get Priority Access to COVID Vaccine
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended, as interim guidance, that both 1) health care personnel and 2) residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccine in the initial phase of the vaccination program.

CMS Guidance for Medicare Coverage of COVID-19 Antibody Treatment
The FDA has approved monoclonal antibodies for emergency use and CMS has issued guidance allowing for access to these products for certain individuals without cost sharing. 

Coverage will be available where medications are readily available to manage adverse reactions to the treatment

Supreme Court Rules Against PBMs
A long-anticipated ruling from the Supreme Court deals a blow to the pharmacy benefit management industry as the court unanimously ruled that the Arkansas law regulating the activity of PBMs was not pre-empted by federal law, reversing lower court rulings.

The ruling is an important win for pharmacies around the country.

Medicaid Updates COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new update to the Coverage and Reimbursement of COVID-19 Vaccines, Vaccine Administration and Cost Sharing under Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Basic Health Program Toolkit that was originally released on October 28th and first updated on November 23rd. This update includes additional information regarding vaccine administration reimbursement and outlines a streamlined review process available to states looking to expeditiously adjust vaccine administration reimbursement rates in their state plan.

CMS Proposes Medicaid Rule to Streamline Prior Authorization
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would improve the electronic exchange of health care data among payers, providers, and patients, and streamline processes related to prior authorization to reduce burden on providers and patients. By both increasing data flow, and reducing burden, this proposed rule would give providers more time to focus on their patients, and provide better quality care.

Health Spending in 2019 up 4.6% to $3.8 Trillion
Health care spending continued its steady rise during 2019, based on analysis by the CMS Office of the Actuary the increase is close to the annual increases since 2016 of 4.5 percent. 

As usual, hospitals are the biggest contributors to spending, coming in at $1.2 trillion for the year. Medicare spending rose 6.7 percent, representing 21 percent of all health spending

CMS Releases Update to Current  Medicare Beneficiary Survey

CMS has released the annual update to the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) Chartbook with data for 2018 located here. Information concerning demographics, health plan satisfaction and cost are at your fingertips with this document.
Everything Else
September Nursing Home Census up Slightly 
Following a steep drop in residents, as a result of COVID-19, September nursing home censuses experienced a slight uptick to 74 percent, a modest 12 basis-point improvement from August, but well off the February level of 84.2 percent.

Pharmacist 2020 Salary and Satisfaction Survey
Drug Topics reports that its pharmacist salary and job satisfaction survey shows compensation has remained largely unchanged while job stress has increased and job satisfaction has taken a plunge.

Medicare Beneficiaries Move to Medicare Advantage Due to Rx Coverage
A recent survey, sponsored by the Better Medicare Alliance, demonstrated that approximately 30 percent of Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees were enticed by prescription drug benefits to move away from traditional Medicare. Also, MA supplemental benefits, such as dental and vision coverage, were strong motivators.

Transforming the medication regimen review process using telemedicine to prevent adverse events
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) posted a summary of an article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that suggests that changing the way consultant pharmacists perform medication regimen reviews could result in significantly fewer adverse drug events.
Some Vials of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Have More Doses than Advertised
Each vial of the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is supposed to contain five doses of vaccine, however some pharmacists have discovered that a few vials contain up to seven doses of the scarce supply of vaccine. 

FDA has advised that all available doses be used, but cautioned against mixing doses from different vials to arrive at a full dose.

Training Pharmacy Techs to Administer Vaccines
The National Pharmacy Technician Association has developed a training program, under the guidance of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, to administer vaccines.