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Rx groups welcome MTM amendment to Senate bill
December 9th, 2009
Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.)
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Retail pharmacy organizations have commended Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) for introducing an amendment to the Senate health care reform bill that would bolster medication therapy management (MTM) programs in Medicare Part D.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores said Wednesday that Hagan's proposed amendment would enable pharmacists "to help more patients take the right medications in the right ways."
NACDS cited remarks that Hagan made on the Senate floor, where she noted that as much as half of all patients don't follow doctors' orders for their medications, with the overall cost impact estimated by the New England Health Care Institute at $290 billion annually.
In particular, NACDS said, Hagan pointed to the pivotal role that pharmacies play in addressing this problem. "The pharmacists follow up and educate the patient about his or her medication regimen," she stated.
Throughout the health care reform push, NACDS and the National Community Pharmacists Association have advocated for provisions that promote pharmacist-provided MTM and help improve medication adherence.
Both groups earlier this year expressed their support for legislation that would broaden access to pharmacist-provided MTM services for Medicare Part D patients: the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. Mike Ross (D., Ark.).
"It is important to patients' quality of life and to containing long-term health care costs that medications are taken as prescribed," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. "We thank Sen. Hagan for her advocacy on behalf of patients and pharmacy — the face of neighborhood health care — and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to help ensure that MTM provisions remain in the final health care bill."
In a statement, NCPA executive vice president and CEO Bruce T. Roberts said, "Sen. Kay Hagan added important language to the Senate 'Freshmen Value and Innovation Package' amendment to codify Medicare's medication therapy management program. MTM utilizes community pharmacists to help patients adhere to and maximize the benefits of their medicine. The programs have been shown to improve outcomes while lowering health care costs."
The Congressional Budget Office has determined that enacting Hagan's amendment would have no significant effects on direct spending or revenue, making it deficit-neutral, according to NACDS.
This week, NCPA also voiced its support of other pharmacy-related amendments to the Senate health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The association noted that an amendment by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) aims to allow pharmacies to continue providing durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) and Part B drugs to Medicare beneficiaries without having to buy a surety bond.
"Like the 14 other types of medical professionals that Medicare exempted from the surety bond requirement, pharmacists are licensed and regulated by the states. Requiring surety bonds is duplicative and may lead to loss of patient access to valuable health care services, such as diabetes testing supplies, canes and crutches," Roberts commented.
"We continue to work with Congress on both a permanent pharmacy exemption from DMEPOS accreditation requirements, as well as an extension of the current moratorium, which is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2009," he added.
NCPA also highlighted an amendment by Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) that would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct the first detailed study in more than a decade of pharmacists' cost of dispensing in the Medicaid program.
"Private studies have shown community pharmacists to be compensated well below their cost of dispensing," Roberts stated, "and a GAO study could give Congress and the states needed information for measuring the adequacy of the dispensing fees they pay and the impact upon patient access to pharmacy services."