LTC Pharmacy News
July 2016
Long Term Care Pharmacy, like the rest of the healthcare industry, experiences constant change, from new legislation to changes in existing regulation, it's hard to keep up. Make your life a little easier by keeping in touch through
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AHRQ Fast Stats on Effect of Health Insurance Expansion on Hospital Use by State
AHRQ has updated HCUP Fast Stats to now include State-level emergency department (ED) visit trends by payer. Quarterly ED visit counts are presented from 2006–2014 for up to 27 States in a given year, including 26 States with 2014 data.

CMS Publishes 2015 Open Payments Data
Ever wonder how much money your personal physician has been paid by drug and device companies? Wonder no more! CMS has updated its Open Payments site to include 2015 payment data.

HHS Office of Civil Rights Gives Guidance to LTC Facilities
The HHS OCR has published guidance to assist long term care facilities in complying with their civil rights responsibilities and obligations under regulations by the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that require facilities which are Medicare and/or Medicaid-certified to ensure their residents receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

Medicare Trustees Shorten Medicare Solvency Timeline
The 2016 Medicare Trustees' Report is out and the trustees have accelerated their estimate of insolvency to the year 2028, two years closer than last year's estimate of 2030.

Per-beneficiary costs continue to be exceptionally low, at around 1.4 percent, with much higher Part D costs (5.9 percent) due primarily to  more expensive drugs.

Senate Passes Opioid Legislation
The US Senate passed the conference report on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act before leaving town for the summer.

The legislation has been signed into law by the president.

The legislation included a provision allowing pharmacists to dispense less than the ordered amount of a controlled substance if state laws permit the practice.

PBMs supported a provision requiring certain patients to be locked into a single pharmacy for their opioid prescriptions (encouraging the concept of narrow provider networks), but the LTC pharmacy industry managed to persuade legislators to make an exception for residents of LTC facilities. See McKnights
Federal Agency News
Go to the LTC Pharmacy website for regular updates on what's coming from CMS, including proposed and final rules, new programs, news from Medicare and Medicaid and updated Medicare Learning resources. Go there now.

The FDA often updates its website with drug safety information, news about drug approvals and implementation information on laws, such as the Drug Quality and Security Act. Keep checking our site for the latest news from FDA.

THE HHS Office of Inspector General publishes audit reports and results of investigations on federal health programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. Congress frequently looks at these reports when deciding where to focus on oversight and legislation. Keep in touch here.

The Government Accountability Office is the official investigative arm of Congress and publishes important reports that often guide the national conversation. We keep track of announcements coming out of GAO, so you don't have to. All you need to do is click here.

News Items of Interest
New SNF Quality Measures Begin July 27
McKnight's reports that five new quality measures in the 5-star quality lineup will become live on July 27, including:
  • Percentage of short-stay (stays of less than or equal to 100 days) residents who have had an outpatient emergency room visit.
  • Percentage of short-stay residents who were successfully discharged to the community, and did not die or were readmitted to a hospital or skilled nursing facility within 30 days of discharge.
  • Percentage of short-stay residents who were re-hospitalized after SNF admission, including observation stays.
  • Percentage of short-stay residents who made improvement in physical function and locomotion.
  • Percentage of long-stay (stays of greater than or equal to 101 days) residents whose ability to move independently worsened.
Kaiser: 10 Essential Facts about Medicare & Rx Drug Spending
The Kaiser Family Foundation has published an interesting chart series on Medicare drug spending and the potential impact of new therapies on the cost of the program in coming years.

Nursing Home Occupance Continues Slide
McKnights reports on the recently-released findings of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. Second quarter data for 2016 show a 0.3 percentage point drop in occupancy in nursing centers, as well as the same percentage decline in occupancy rates in the larger senior housing sector.

The Virtual Pharmacist
Pharmacy Practice News reports on the increasing use of telepharmacy, not just to provide access to remote rural patients, but as a revenue generator.

Kaiser: 15 Years of Medicaid Surveys
The Kaiser Family Foundation has published an annual review of state Medicaid program statistics for the past 15 years. So, if anyone would have a good perspective on the twists and turns of the program, it might be them. See for yourself.

Americans Spent $30 billion on Alternative Medicine in 2012
Health Day reports that Americans spent $30 billion in 2012 on such alternative treatments as chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga and natural supplements. Much of this spending is out-of-pocket as not all insurers cover alternative treatments. 

NYC Digital Pharmacy Delivers: Drug Topics reports on a New York City pharmacy that connects online to its customers and delivers ordered medication and refills throughout the city, free of additional charge. Capsule began operating in May of this year and has proven very popular with its growing customer base.

Are Pill Organizers Dangerous?
New research, reported in McKnights, suggests that seniors who move from standard dispensing systems (vials) to pills organized by day of week and time of day may be subject to increased side effects and potential trouble. Oddly, the good news is that patients are more likely to adhere to their medication, which is also the bad news. How about a study of whether these studies cause more concern than help?

The Move to Home and Away from Nursing Homes
The Pew Charitable Trusts reports on the continuing move away from nursing facilities as the default setting for long term care. States have a major stake in helping fuel this transition, as nursing home care costs continue to rise while non-institutional costs remain much more affordable.

New Site Offers Increased Healthcare Pricing Transparency
USA Today reports on a new company, amino, that helps consumers gauge the probable cost of dozens of procedures covered by health insurers. While the site doesn't offer the complete solution to the vexing problem of healthcare pricing transparency, observers seem to agree it's a good first step.

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