Senate bill would prohibit certain types of payments to long-term care pharmacies

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Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Medicare prescription drug plan sponsors (PDPs) would be barred from using certain payment structures to long-term care pharmacies under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The Affordable Care Act created a program known as the Medicare Short-Cycle Dispensing program, which is intended to reduce waste related to prescription drug dispensing in long-term care settings. However, the savings promised has been “put in jeopardy,” according to Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

To address this situation, Cardin and Mikulski introduced the Medicare Efficient Drug Dispensing Act of 2013. The bill would prohibit PDPs from paying long-term care pharmacies a fee based on the dispensing of drugs for a particular number of days. A better system, according to the lawmakers, is paying the LTC pharmacy a “flat, professional fee” for each prescription that is filled.

“Too often facilities are forced to buy more than they need and perfectly good, and expensive, drugs go to waste,” Mikulski said. “This legislation will save taxpayers money by making sure that Medicare is only paying for the drugs that people use.”

The National Community Pharmacists Association came out in support of the bill, noting that it addresses concerns that NCPA has raised with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

"Shorter dispensing cycles should reduce waste and prorating dispensing fees, if applied fairly, won't be burdensome or financially problematic for independent community pharmacies,” an NCPA spokesman told McKnight's.

Click here to access the text of the bill, introduced Sept. 10.

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