Medicare drug benefit guidance needs resident safeguards, ASCP says

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should specify additional safeguards and patient protections in the Medicare drug benefit operational guidance to ensure that long-term care residents have access to needed medications, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists said in a letter to federal officials.

The ASCP, which provided comments last week to CMS on the Medicare Modernization Act as it relates to long-term care, said the drug benefit gives so much power to prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans that long-term care residents are at risk for medication-related problems and under treatment.

It offered seven recommendations to CMS for the implementation of MMA in long-term care facilities. Among them: CMS must make clear that residents are to receive all medications deemed medically necessary by the resident's physician; prescription drug pharmacies (PDPs) should not be able to deny access to medications deemed necessary by the attending physician.