Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is delaying the implementation of its controversial short-cycle dispensing rule. The one-year postponement pushes the implementation date to Jan. 1, 2013.

The agency also has eliminated a requirement that would have forced long-term care operators to return dispensed but unused drugs.

In addition, in response to providers’ outcry that administering seven-day-or-shorter cycles would be too cumbersome and possibly more expensive, officials have extended the window for dispensing Medicare Part D-covered solid oral brand-name drugs to beneficiaries living in eldercare facilities to 14 days-or-less. Generic equivalents would not be applicable. The current window is 30 days.

Long-term care pharmacist associations hailed the moves but are still disappointed that the current window would narrow. They are calling for more research into the issues at hand, saying that proposed changes would likely prove more expensive than the current system and avoid far less waste than officials expect.

Providers had been pushing for a delay in implementation until Jan. 1, 2014.