SEPTEMBER 01, 2006

The financially strapped Medicaid program can stretch its budget significantly by encouraging pharmacists to provide medication therapy management services (MTMS) to patients, said an official of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). "For every dollar invested in pharmacists providing?patient-focused services, an estimated $16.50 is saved in health care costs," APhA State Relations Director Hrant Jamgochian said in a presentation to the Medicaid Commission.

The commission, an advisory group charged with finding ways to slash $10 billion from federal Medicaid expenditures by 2010, is scheduled to issue a series of cost-cutting recommendations by the end of this year. Although MTMS is a key element in the new Medicare Part D drug program, Medicaid currently provides no payment to encourage pharmacists to undertake these activities.

"By incentivizing pharmacists to spend this additional time with patients, Medicaid programs can optimize therapeutic outcomes, improve medication use, reduce the risks of adverse events and drug interactions, and increase patient adherence and compliance with prescribed regimens," said Jamgochian. He added that studies have found that MTMS by community pharmacists to asthma patients reduced hospitalizations by 77% and emergency department visits by 78%.