LTC Pharmacy News
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|Medicare Provider Status For Pharmacists Introduced|
Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to extend payment for pharmacist services in the Medicare program.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Previous versions of this bill have been introduced in previous Congresses without movement, despite a majority of members having signed on as co-sponsors.
Are we being taken for suckers yet again, or is this our best chance yet?
|CDC Loosens COVID-19 Restrictions in LTC|
The Center for Disease Control issued updated guidance for assisted living and nursing home residents that allows for resuming congregate dining and group activities without masks for fully-vaccinated residents.
|CMS: Vaccinated Staff Exempt from COVID Testing|
CMS has announced that nursing home staff that have been fully vaccinated no longer need to undergo routine COVID testing,
However, the rules get much more complicated if new cases of COVID are identified in the facility.
|Surprise! Drugs More Expensive in US|
In a report that surprised no one, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that prices for prescription drugs in the US are 2-4 times more expensive than in Australia, Canada, and France.
The comparison was based on 2020 prices for 20 selected branded drugs. Note that the comparison countries are not developing economies but advanced countries that more aggressively regulate drug prices.
|What's In President Biden's American Families Plan?|
Lots of spending and tax increases are the theme of the president's proposal. Everything from expanded child care to subsidized leave from jobs.
The notable healthcare policy included is a $200 billion subsidy for persons that rely on the private market for health insurance.
The proposal is ambitious and certain to stir passions on both sides.
|CMS Introduces Health Equity Newsletter|
The CMS Office of Minority Health’s (CMS OMH) announces the publication of the inaugural edition of its new publication focusing on work the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is doing to address health care disparities.
|Medicare Covers Cognitive Impairment Assessment|
Medicare beneficiaries that show signs of cognitive impairment during an annual wellness visit may receive a separate assessment by any authorized healthcare provider (e.g., physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant) and bill Medicare under the CPT code 99483.
|Rx Drug Reforms Introduced in Congress|The problems of prescription drug pricing take many forms, and this week Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill intended to stop brand-name manufacturers from paying generic companies not to introduce generic versions of off-patent medications.
Other bills have been introduced to limit manufacturers' ability to invoke citizens' petitions to slow down generic approvals and yet others to remove manufacturers' efforts to extend exclusivity by making minor changes to drug formulation.
|CDC:Osteoporosis in Long-Term Care|
In case you missed it, May is National Osteoporosis Month!. Just in time comes some interesting statistics courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and its National Post-acute and Long-term Care Study.
The brief reveals the incidence of osteoporosis in assisted living and residential care communities and adult day care centers.
These data can all be found here
|Biden Supports Suspending Vaccine Patent Protections|
The US Trade Representative reports that the president supports an initiative within the World Health Organization (WHO) to suspend patent protection for intellectual property related to the COVID-19 vaccines.
Several advanced economies within the WHO have raised objections, and it requires a unanimous agreement to take effect, but the White House now appears to be on board.
|COVID-19 Deaths Drop to All-Time Lows in LTC|
The impact aggressive vaccination against COVID-19 has resulted in record-low infection rates in most states. There are some states that are seeing increasing infections, but the national trend seems to be heading in a strongly positive direction.
Business Leaders Embrace Healthcare Regulation
The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Purchaser Business Group on Health sponsored a survey of 300 large business leaders concerning their receptiveness to increased government involvement in regulating healthcare, including a national "public option" for health coverage.
Although wary of government solutions to this intractable problem, a majority of the survey respondents appear at least somewhat receptive to a government-imposed solution to the problem of healthcare cost
CVS Launches Venture Capital Fund
The Rhode Island-based healthcare giant announced that it has created a $100 million venture capital fund to invest in digital healthcare solutions. The newly-formed CVS Health Ventures will look for opportunities to invest in technology companies with the potential to provide enhanced accessibility, affordability and simplicity that fit the CVS long-term strategy
|CVSand Walgreens: Wasted Vaccine|
The two pharmacy giants have been identified by Kaiser Health News of wasting more than 128,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine during their push to inoculate LTC residents under the federal vaccine initiative.
The number seems big, but total waste across the system has been relatively modest, considering the number of injections that have been administered.
|Nursing Home Stays Too Long?|
McKnight's Long-Term Care News reports on a study published in Health Affairs examining the potential for reducing length of stay in nursing homes by a week or more, on average, without compromising health outcomes.
The authors contend that the move away from institutional care to home-based care is not reversible and that nursing facilities need to provide cost-effective services, even if it means discharging residents sooner than Medicare requires.
|AlixaRx Settles Whistleblower Suit|
LTC Pharmacy company AlixaRx agreed to a $2.75 million settlement of a whistleblower complaint that alleged the company dispensed controlled substances without a valid prescription.
The company did not admit guilt and referred to the settlement as a business decision.
|SCPC Requests LTC Pharmacy Priority in Relief|
The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Becerra requesting the Department prioritize LTC pharmacies in its next distribution of CARES Act funding.