MTM message breaks through in Congress

Last week, I wrote about medication therapy management and a new bill in the House of Representatives to expand the pool of patients who qualify for MTM programs through Medicare. This week, I’m writing about — wait for it — medication therapy management.

Why? Because MTM is important, vitally important, to the future of community pharmacy, and is one of the key health and prevention services that will define the profession in the era of health reform and evidence-based health care.

I also am revisiting MTM because the Senate has now taken up similar legislation. As reported by Drug Store News senior editor Michael Johnsen, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act, introduced in the Senate on March 14, would “allow seniors with any high-cost chronic illness to review all their medication and develop a plan of action with a pharmacist.”

One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., called MTM “a commonsense, fiscally responsible way to improve seniors’ health and reduce preventable trips to the hospital.” And Hagan has seen its value up close in her home state, where statewide health programs like ChecKmeds NC “save lives and have already saved tens of millions of dollars in North Carolina alone,” thanks in large part to interventions by pharmacists in the chronic care of seniors through MTM and prescription drug adherence efforts.

The Senate bill’s co-sponsor, Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas, sees MTM as “an important tool in the pharmacist’s tool box for many patients…which can be critical for those suffering from chronic conditions.” What’s more, he voiced the realization that pharmacists “can sometimes be the only health provider in our rural towns.”

The moves in Congress to more effectively enlist pharmacists in the urgent search for solutions to the nation’s health crisis was timely: It came as hundreds of pharmacists, pharmacy executives and pharmacy faculty and students descended on Washington for the 5th Annual NACDS RxImpact Day last week. Drug Store News senior editor Antoinette Alexander reported that this yearly exercise in mass grass-roots lobbying spawned 400 direct meetings between chain pharmacy advocates and the federal lawmakers representing their home districts.

What’s more, Alexander reports, “The RxImpact Day event continues to grow in popularity,” with participation up 29% in 2013 and 70% of the chain pharmacy industry represented. If you were among those RxImpact participants, please share your experience with your fellow readers. Were the senators, congressional representatives and staff members you met with on the Hill receptive to pharmacy’s message? Did they understand the need for MTM and other pharmacist-provided health services? And did they understand community pharmacy’s huge cost-saving potential?

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