Inside This Issue - News
MTM legislation wins support from Rx groups
July 19th, 2010
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Building on the pharmacy-specific provisions in the health care reform law, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) have endorsed medication therapy management (MTM) legislation.
The MTM bill was authored and introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) with Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) as an original cosponsor. The legislation is the Senate’s companion to a House bill that was introduced last year by Rep. Mike Ross (D., Ark.), and endorsed by NACDS and NCPA.
The legislation aims to enhance pharmacist-provided MTM for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries by opening up services to patients suffering from any chronic condition or disease.
“NACDS appreciates the leadership of Sen. Hagan in advancing this cost-effective and proven pharmacy service,” says NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “By encouraging MTM services in neighborhood pharmacies, the bill would improve public health and reduce health care costs by helping patients to take their medications in the right ways and avoid complications with their drug therapies. Patients suffering from chronic disease, be it diabetes, hypertension, asthma or other conditions, will benefit from these pharmacy services, which also strengthen the pharmacist-patient relationship. We thank Sens. Hagan and Franken for their commitment to improving health care in a way that stands to reduce costs and improve lives.”
Only half of Americans stay on their prescription drug regimen. A July 2009 report by the New England Health Institute estimated that the overall cost of poor medication adherence, measured in otherwise avoidable medical spending, is as much as $290 billion per year, or 13% of total health care expenditures. The cost includes unnecessary hospitalizations, doctor and emergency room visits, and factors related to preventable disease progression.
MTM permits pharmacists to work with patients to review, monitor and identify problems with their medications, as well as to coordinate with a physician to resolve problems.
“This bill will allow seniors with one chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, to bring all of their medications to the pharmacy and ensure they are following doctor’s orders,” explained Hagan, who is a member of the Senate committee that oversees health care issues. “If more seniors properly follow their medication regimens, we can save lives and Medicare dollars. These programs have already helped North Carolina save money, and our seniors have avoided countless health care problems.”
Douglas Hoey, acting NCPA executive vice president and chief executive, says, “There is a treasure trove of compelling evidence about the effectiveness of MTM services, which is why NCPA and its members strongly support this bill. For many Medicare Part D patients, the challenges of coping with numerous chronic conditions and diseases require an expert’s consultation, and pharmacists are clinically trained in helping ensure their patients are getting the best possible results. The bill offered by Sens. Hagan and Franken is the next logical step in broadening the reach of MTM. NCPA urges the Senate to move expeditiously to pass this bill, because true health care reform needs to incorporate all the best practices.”
Although many studies have focused on MTM, one program with 186 patients through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota found reductions in health care costs per person of 31.5%. The return on investment was $12.15 per $1 of MTM services provided.
A study at Kerr Drug revealed that the combination of pharmacist-provided MTM and lower-cost therapy alternatives can improve patient outcomes while generating savings for public health care programs. Supported by a grant from the NACDS Foundation, the 2006-2007 study found that MTM helped North Carolina Medicaid save $9,444 annually — an average of $107 per beneficiary.
The University of North Carolina study, titled “Retrospective analysis of community pharmacists’ recommendations in the North Carolina Medicaid medication therapy management program,” was published in the May/June 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.
The study found that when physicians and pharmacists worked together to review patient profiles and communicated with their patients more, patients listened to their health care providers and better adhered to their medications, including lower-cost options, such as over-the-counter drugs. These efforts were found to decrease prescription drug costs for North Carolina Medicaid.
“Medication adherence is a crucial component in improving patient health and reducing overall public health care costs,” says NACDS Foundation president Edith Rosato. “This study is a perfect example of the public benefits of medication therapy management. Counseling patients on how to adhere to a medication regimen, recommending lower-cost medication alternatives and recognizing harmful drug interactions can, over time, result in better health for a patient, and reduced costs for public health care programs like Medicaid.”