May 21 update: Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed out of the committee a version of the 21st Century Cures legislation that expands the mandatory exemption to drug management programs (the “lock-in”) for Part D Medicare beneficiaries living in long-term care facilities, intermediate care facilities, hospices and other facilities “for which frequently abused drugs are dispensed for residents through a contgract with a single pharmacy.”
The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) says it is pleased with the Energy and Commerce Committee’s revised language in draft 21st Century Cures legislation it is considering related to programs to prevent prescription drug abuse under Medicare Parts C and D.
“The new Medicare Part D ‘lock-in’ language is a significant step in the right direction,” SCPC President Alan G. Rosenbloom said in a statement. “The revamped provision recognizes there are certain beneficiaries who should not be exempt from the provision because they already are protected from potential drug abuse.”
The SCPC previously expressed concerns that the legislation inadvertently would restrict access to needed medications for residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities. Such facilities and pharmacies already must meet more stringent safeguards than the legislation, as formerly worded, would have established, according to the SCPC.
The new language would exempt hospice patients, and the bill also would allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to exempt other individuals, including those who are residents of LTC facilities. “The SCPC believes that beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities and other [LTC] settings like assisted living already have sufficient protections and should be exempted,” Rosenbloom says.
The SCPC will continue to work with committee members to ensure that LTC residents can access needed medication while potential abuse is minimized, he adds.