Pharmacist giving senior flu shot

A coalition of long-term care pharmacies is calling top federal lawmakers to prioritize the sector for future Provider Relief Fund allocations after receiving no assistance from the reserve since its inception. 

“The financial situation for LTC pharmacies mirrors the financial situation for nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition wrote in a letter to Congressional party leaders late last week. “It is essential that the next distribution from the Provider Relief Fund include LTC pharmacies, particularly as many providers who received relief last year seek additional relief in 2021.”

The 11 signatories included Phil Fogg Jr., the president and CEO of Consonus and the vice chairman of the board of governors for the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living.

The group noted that federal law requires long-term care pharmacies to provide healthcare services, as well as prescription drugs, to residents in long-term care. Long-term care pharmacies also have become the linchpin of vaccine distribution within the industry following the conclusion of the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, which offered three vaccination clinics for facilities.  

Vaccines, however, have continued to be widely available to facilities through existing long-term care pharmacies through the federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination.

The sector has seen an 11% drop in revenue, while incurring a 10% increase in operating costs during the first quarter of 2021, and the vaccination program is exacerbating those losses, according to the pharmacy coalition.  

The group also noted that long-term care facilities have received at least $12 billion in “well-deserved financial relief” from the fund. 

“While we have been happy to help assure that these residents are protected, doing so has worsened the financial impact of the pandemic and underscores that LTC pharmacies deserve relief,” the coalition wrote. 

The group estimated that proportionate relief for LTC pharmacies would take “no more than $370 million and could take far less.” 

“We always will remain committed to our long-term care residents and facilities,” the group concluded. “But we cannot be silent about the outsized impacts the pandemic has had on our sector and our continuing need for relief to fulfill this nation’s promise to our most vulnerable citizens.” 

Other signers of the letter were: Kent Abbott, president and CEO, PharmcareUSA; Fred Burke, president and CEO, Guardian Pharmacy Services; Robert E. Dries, president, PharMerica; J. Norman Estes, president and CEO, NHS Management; Brian H. Kramer, R.Ph., MBA, president and CIO, Forum Extended Care Services. 

Also, Jill Krueger, president and CEO, Symbria; Chad Michel, CEO, M Chest Institutional Pharmacy Group; Brian J. Scott, R.Ph., president, HealthDirect Institutional Pharmacy Services. Michael Segal, R.Ph., CEO, PharmScript; and Joe Whitt, CEO, PCA Pharmacy.