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The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), working together as the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action, recently announced their support for HR 3108, the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep Mike Ross (D, AR).
The bill was introduced on Friday, June 26, 2009, and was immediately referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Committee on Ways and Means¡ª2 House committees with jurisdiction over comprehensive health care reform legislation. Our organizations worked jointly to have this legislation introduced, as the expansion of medication therapy management (MTM) services in the community pharmacy setting has been one of the coalition¡¯s primary objectives.
The bill, HR 3108, would require Part D prescription drug plan sponsors to allow any willing pharmacy in its network to participate and pay pharmacists and other entities based on resources used and time required to provide the MTM services. In addition, pharmacies could receive incentive payments from Medicare based on meeting quality standards.
Pharmacists are uniquely qualified as medication experts to work with patients to manage their medications and chronic conditions and play a key role in helping patients take their medications as prescribed. Nonadherence with medications is a significant problem. According to a report by the World Health Organization, in developed countries, only 50% of patients with chronic diseases adhere to medication therapies. For example, in the United States, only 51% of patients taking blood pressure medications are adherent; similarly, only 40% to 70% of patients taking antidepressant medications adhere to prescribed therapies.
Poor medication adherence has been estimated to cost over $177 billion per year, according to an article by Frank R. Ernst, PharmD, and Amy J. Grizzle, PharmD, "Drug-Related Morbidity and Mortality: Updating the Cost-of-Illness Model," published in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical As sociation.
This article was published in 2001, and it is widely anticipated that this figure has risen substantially since that time. Direct and indirect costs include loss of productivity, increased emergency room visits, and hospitalizations, among others.
Studies have shown that MTM re - duces health complications and costs. For example, one Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota study showed a reduction of $12 in overall health care costs for every $1 invested in MTM.
In addition, in North Carolina, the ChecKmeds NC program, which offers eligible seniors one-on-one MTM consultations with pharmacists, saved an estimated $10 million in health care costs and avoided numerous health problems in the first year of the program for the more than 15,000 seniors receiving MTM. Similar results have been achieved in several other demonstrations using community pharmacists.
NACDS and NCPA appreciate the hard work and dedication of Rep Ross as he advocates for propharmacy health care reform legislation in Congress. The bill signifies the importance of pharmacist-provided MTM for improving medication adherence, enhancing patient health, and reducing long-term health care costs. HR 3108 will expand the pool of Medicare Part D patients that can access valuable MTM services and recognize pharmacists for the savings they provide to the health care system.
Enhancement of the MTM benefit under Part D of the Medicare program should be a key component of the national health care reform agenda. CCPA applauds introduction of the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2009 bill and urges it be incorporated into health care reform legislation.
The Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action (CCPA) is an alliance between the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), which together represent more than 55,000 community pharmacies.