AHCA/NCAL Praises Senate Committee for Shining Light on Outdated Rules Causing Delays with Medication for Patients in Pain
AHCA/NCAL Members Testify Before Senate Committee
Washington, DC –The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) praised Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and the other Members of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging for their efforts to address delays with dispensing of critical pain medications for patients in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and hospice. These delays, which stem from recent Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforcement of outdated rules and regulations under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), are the focus of the Committee’s hearing, “The War on Drugs vs. The War on Pain: Nursing Home Patients Caught in the Crossfire.”
“More and more patients are experiencing delays in receiving needed treatment that could control and alleviate patients’ acute and chronic pain,” said Bruce Yarwood, President of AHCA/NCAL. “We applaud the Senate Special Committee on Aging for shining a light on this serious problem with today’s hearing.”
Testifying at this afternoon’s Senate hearing, two AHCA/NCAL members will highlight the negative impact enforcement of these outdated rules is having on patients, their families, and caregivers. Wisconsin Health Care Association and Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living (WHCA/WICAL) member and Oakridge Gardens Nursing Center Administrator, Michael T. Schanke, NHA told the Committee, “Our hard working, dedicated team of nurses, doctors, therapists and pharmacists are frustrated by recent changes to what has been standard care practice for decades, upon which many state regulations are based. Those of us in long term care are used to adapting to new rules and regulations; but, as caring compassionate health professionals, change that negatively impacts our patients is difficult to bear.”
Schanke’s testimony echoes the experiences of nearly 900 physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, and other clinicians from 46 states, which are detailed in a new report from the Quality Care Coalition for Patients in Pain (QCCPP) that is being released today. Active with the QCCPP, AHCA/NCAL contributed significantly to the report, Patients in Pain: How U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Rules Harm Patients in Nursing Facilities, which explains how and to what extent DEA rules affect patients in long term care.
AHCA/NCAL member and Vice President of Pharmacy Services for Golden Living Robert R. Warnock, DPh, CGP, FASCP, explained the difficult, and often heart-wrenching, position many nursing facilities find themselves in as a consequence of DEA enforcement. “Existing DEA regulations are difficult to comply with in our skilled nursing facility environment – particularly in light of [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)] regulations under which we already operate…Conflicting DEA and CMS regulations for skilled nursing facilities place skilled nursing facilities in a difficult position. On one hand, DEA regulations increase delays in the provision of needed medications. On the other hand, CMS regulations require that skilled nursing facilities provide immediate care of the patients’ needs. Compliance with both sets of regulations is challenging and, at times, impossible.”
AHCA/NCAL testimony explains, “Certainly, long term care professionals understand and support the DEA’s role in preventing the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals…. While we support DEA’s efforts to prevent the sale or theft of prescription medications to drug dealers or abusers and other types of drug diversion, we remain dumbfounded by rules and regulations that are the root cause of unimaginable, unacceptable delays in access to the pain medication patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the country need.”
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represent more than 11,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahca.org or www.ncal.org.