LTC pharmacists push for changes in Medicare drug policy

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The Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance is asking lawmakers to allow caregivers to help residents choose Medicare Part D drug plans.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid currently prohibits nursing home caregivers, as well as pharmacists, from steering residents toward a particular plan to avoid a conflict of interest. But residents' cognitive impairments hinder their ability to choose the right plan, Alliance Executive Director Paul Baldwin recently told members of Congress. He noted that nursing home staff do not have relationships with prescription drug plans.

Many problems arose when dual eligibles were automatically enrolled in Medicare drug plans that did not cover their medications. Long-term care pharmacies, which are required to fill prescriptions for residents, regardless of payment, have shouldered much of the financial burden of unpaid claims, according to Baldwin and American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Policy and Advocacy Director Thomas R. Clark.