MTM bill's bark matches its bite

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT The Senate medication therapy management bill, introduced on June 29 by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., has been backed by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association -- and for good reason. For health reform to have any real teeth, MTM needs to be a meaningful part of it -- and if MTM is going to have any real teeth, retail pharmacy needs to be a part of it.

(THE NEWS: NACDS, NCPA back senatorial MTM bill. For the full story, click here)

As the article stated, Hagan's Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010 would enhance pharmacist-provided MTM services for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries by opening MTM services to patients suffering from any chronic condition or disease. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is an original co-sponsor of the bill.

Participating seniors annually receive an MTM review. Currently, 12.9% of Medicare Part D beneficiaries, all of whom have multiple chronic illnesses, are eligible to participate in MTM programs. Hagan's MTM bill would allow seniors with one chronic illness to participate.

About half of all patients in the United States do not follow their doctors' orders regarding their medications. A recent analysis conducted by the New England Healthcare Institute estimated that the overall cost of people not following their medication regimens is as much as $290 billion per year, according to a statement issued by Hagan.

The Hagan-Franken MTM bill is important because it will help reduce wasted healthcare costs in the Medicare system, and there's no doubt that pharmacists play a key role in that effort. According to a statement issued by Hagan, Abby Caplan, a Kerr pharmacist in Zebulon, N.C., said a MTM session can make a real difference in a patient's life.

"I met with a couple and upon reviewing their medications, the wife stated she had 'given up' several of her medications because she felt her husband's conditions were more important than hers," Caplan said. "I was able to recommend several cost-effective substitutes for both the husband and wife to help with their monthly cost savings. I also explained the importance and indication for each medicine. Upon completion of the MTM session, the wife looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, 'Thank you so much, I feel like I should hug you' -- which she did."

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