Report: Medicare reform law lacks guidance for nursing homes' pharmaceutical practices

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The new Medicare prescription drug legislation lacks specific language on how it will affect nursing home pharmaceutical practices, according to a new report for the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Part D of the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act was designed to lower drug costs for most Medicare participants. However, according to the report, the legislation does not detail how the new law will coordinate with the practices of long-term care facilities when it is implemented in 2006.

Nursing homes typically obtain the drugs for their patients from large "institutional" pharmacies that specialize in providing for long-term care facilities. Instead, the legislation asks for a study to be performed and presented to Congress.

The information marketing Part D, including the hotline, Web site and brochure, are inadequate materials for the 65-and-over set to use to make decisions about which specific programs they should use, the report says.

The report calls for the address of these issues, as well as assessing cost-sharing amounts for residents who are not dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and ensuring that beneficiaries who pay for drugs as part of their nursing home stay get credit towards their out-of-pocket limit.