Inside This Issue - News
Bill seeks to expand MTM under Medicare
February 28th, 2011
WASHINGTON – Community pharmacy advocates and drug store chains are praising the recent introduction of a bill that aims to expand the number of Medicare patients who would be eligible for medication therapy management (MTM) services.
They say that the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, which was introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) earlier this month, would improve patient care as well as help to control health care spending.
Although MTM was authorized for Medicare patients as part of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the new law would allow MTM services to be provided to any Medicare recipient suffering from a chronic condition that accounts for high spending in the health care system.
Executives at Kerr Drug, who strongly support Hagan’s legislation, point out that the program envisioned in the bill is patterned after North Carolina’s three-year-old ChecKmeds NC program. That initiative, which utilizes a network of 500 community and retail pharmacists across the state, has eliminated more than $34 million in health care spending since it was launched in 2007, Kerr executives point out.
“The most effective and cost-efficient way to ensure seniors take their medication properly is through the counseling of a pharmacist,” Kerr chief executive officer Tony Civello says. “The evidence shows pharmacists can improve patient health and save health care dollars because pharmacists are often the most accessible health care provider for patients.”
Civello’s enthusiastic support for the new legislation is echoed by the two trade associations representing the nation’s retail pharmacists.
“Neighborhood pharmacies can provide MTM services to help patients manage their health, especially for those patients who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma or other conditions,” National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson says.
“This commonsense legislation can help patients understand the importance of taking their medications as prescribed, which can lead to improved health as well as lowering their health care costs,” Anderson points out.
National Community Pharmacists Association executive vice president and chief executive Kathleen Jaeger notes that the timing of the proposed law could not be better.
“With health care expenses rising and our country’s changing demographics, cost-effective services like MTM are needed now more than ever,” Jaeger states. “We encourage all senators and representatives to back this legislation and look forward to the grassroots engagement of patients and local pharmacists in support of this bill.”