Any future plans to distribute the remaining dollars in the Provider Relief Fund must include long-term care pharmacies which have been “largely excluded” from the relief so far, a national industry coalition pleaded this week. 

“The lack of relief funds cannot continue indefinitely without impacting LTC pharmacies’ abilities to provide the unique care and services required for older people and people with disabilities living in LTC facilities and settings,” said Alan Rosenbloom, president and CEO of the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition on Monday.

Rosenbloom’s comments come after Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra revealed during a Senate hearing last week that the agency plans to issue guidance this month on how healthcare providers can apply for and spend the remaining $24 billion in relief funding. 

He noted that long-term care pharmacies “largely have been excluded from relief so far,” while most healthcare providers, like long-term facilities, have received well-deserved support. 

“While the health crisis is looking better in LTC facilities, the pandemic’s financial crisis hit LTC pharmacies hard, with costs 10% higher and revenues 11% lower than pre-pandemic levels. Lawmakers assured healthcare providers they would receive relief from the economic impact of the pandemic,” he argued. 

Rosenbloom explained that some LTC pharmacy applications for relief funding were “simply denied,” resulting in disproportionately low relief or the payments received were clawed back by HHS. He added that others didn’t apply because “HHS sent mixed signals regarding LTC pharmacy eligibility for relief, which continued through all of 2020.”  

It is “essential” HHS commit a portion of the remaining $24 billion to LTC pharmacies, he added.

“Abandoning LTC pharmacies is akin to ignoring the needs of our most vulnerable citizens — it is truly a matter of life and death,” he said.