LTC Pharmacy News
January 2022
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Federal Updates
Supreme Court Upholds Mandatory Healthcare Vaccinations
The US Supreme court, by a vote of 5-4, upheld the Biden Administration's directive that healthcare providers require employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

In a related ruling, the court refused to allow the Administration to implement a vaccination mandate directed at employers with 100 or more employees.

CDC Issues New Guidance on Isolation for COVID
The Center for Disease Control has updated its guidance on appropriate self-isolation and quarantine protocols for people with a diagnosis or exposure to the coronavirus.

The new guidelines, issued January 4th, have been widely criticized because of a lack of a mandate for post-exposure testing.

Medicaid Releases LTSS Expenditure Report 2019
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Medicaid LTSS Annual Expenditures Report for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2019. This report discusses the LTSS rebalancing trends and growth in expenditures for home and community-based services (HCBS) as compared to institutional spending during the time period reviewed.

See Report

CMS Proposes Coverage of Adulheim only in Clinical Trials
The long-awaited recommendation from CMS on coverage of Biogen's $26,000 per year treatment for Alzheimer's disease has arrived. The agency proposes coverage of the drug only for Medicare beneficiaries in clinical trials.

HHS Secretary Wants Re-think on Part B Premiums
Now that Biogen has reduced the price ($28,000) of therapy for Adulheim, its approved treatment for Alzheimer's Disease, HHS Secretary Becerra has directed CMS to reconsider its recommendation on the Medicare 2022 Part B Premium.

The drug's annual cost, announced at $56,000 per year, was the primary factor in raising the Part B premium from $148.50 in 2021 to $170.10 in 2022.

CMS To Begin Posting SNF Staffing Data
CMS announced that it would begin posting information on the Medicare Care Compare (formerly nursing home compare) website this month.

Information to be posted includes staff turnover and weekend staffing.

MACPAC Publishes Medicaid Stats
If you love statistics and have an interest in Medicaid you will find the latest publication from the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) a valuable resource.

The Commission provides a wide variety of program statistics that can be difficult to find in other resources.

OMB Publishes Regulatory Agenda for 2022
The Office of Management and Budget has published the semi-annual Unified Regulatory Agenda for federal agencies for the upcoming year.

Regulatory actions to be pursued by CMS and other related agencies are summarized by the National Association of Medicaid Directors.
NCHS Brief: Characteristics of Residential Care Communities
The National Center for Health Statistics has released a data brief on Residential care community resident characteristics : United States, 2018. The brief covers demographic information, most common chronic medical conditions, as well as most common limitations on Activities of Daily Living.
Everything Else
Life Care Communities Cutting Back on SNFs
Nearly 45 percent of the operators of Life Care Communities (formerly knows as CCRCs) noted that they planned to scale back or eliminate Skilled Services in their plan offerings.

Some States Requiring Booster Shots for Nursing Home Staff
As the coronavirus infectons continue to mount, a total of five states now require nursing home staff to have received not just the two (mRNA vaccines) or one (Johnson and Johnson) basic series, but the booster shot as well.

Prescribing-Assessment Tools for Long-Term Care Pharmacy Practice: NLM Article
The prevalence of potentially inappropriate medicines amongst Long-Term Care patients is high. Pharmacists, assisted by prescribing-assessment tools, can play an important role in optimizing medication use at this level of care. Through a modified RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method, 13 long-term care and hospital pharmacists assessed as 'appropriate', 'uncertain', or 'inappropriate' a collection of commonly used prescribing-assessment tools as to its suitability in assisting pharmacy practice in institutional long-term care settings.
COVID Deaths Among Nursing Home Staff Near Skyrocket
The week ending January 9th was a particularly tragic one for nursing home staff, with 67 deaths reported. The record for a single week among nursing home staff is 69 deaths.

Staffing levels are down due to staff infection and exposure, but more staff are vaccinated, making the scenario less lethal than it would be otherwise.
Worker Shortages Shut Down Pharmacies
Rising COVID-19 infections have caused many pharmacies to limit hours and implement temporary closures, just as the country is facing record new coronavirus cases.