Changes proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could create turmoil for independent community pharmacies providing long-term care (LTC) services and especially for those pharmacies in underserved rural areas, the National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) LTC Division said in comments filed with CMS recently.
In response to inadequate data and the alleged wrongdoing by one national LTC pharmacy corporation, CMS has suggested requiring all LTC facilities to contract solely with consultant pharmacists who have no affiliations to any in-facility LTC pharmacy, pharmaceutical manufacturer, or drug wholesaler.
“If implemented as proposed, these requirements could compromise patient health,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. “We look forward to working constructively with CMS and Congress to advance their goals in a more practical manner.”
In comments filed with the agency, NCPA made a number of points, including the following:
A November 2011 survey of NCPA members supported the concerns expressed in NCPA’s comments. Namely, respondents indicated that 80% of the LTC facilities that they serve are in rural areas. Further, most pharmacists surveyed said that, in the communities that their LTC pharmacies serve, there is already a shortage of consultant pharmacists, which NCPA argues would become worse under CMS’ proposal. In addition, the overwhelming majority of respondents asserted that CMS’ proposed requirement would be detrimental to LTC facilities’ efficiencies, continuity of care, timeliness of care and services, and communication between health care providers.