Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Legislation that WILL change the profession of pharmacy... a call to action

Last week Kay Hagen (along with Al Franken) introduced a bill to the United States Senate that will change pharmacy as you and I know it. With the introduction of the "Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010" (S.3543), access to medication therapy management services may be expanded to more Medicare D beneficiaries.

This bill, by my read of it, is basically identical to the "Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2009" (HR 3108) that was referred to the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees last summer. Right now the Senate version has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

The APhA is applauding the introduction of the bill to the Senate, just as they did when the House introduced their version. And they should...MTM has been their baby all along. But right now both bills are sitting in committee. Which means nothing will get acted on unless the Senators and Congressmen feel pressure to act on the bills.

When I look at both bills, one thing jumps out at me. Both bills have language that says "In order to assure that enrollees have the option of obtaining medication therapy management services under this paragraph, a PDP sponsor shall offer any willing pharmacy in its network and any other qualified health care provider the opportunity to provide such services" (Senate version)


"A PDP sponsor shall offer any willing pharmacy in its network the ability to provide medication therapy management services to assure that enrollees have the option of obtaining services under the medication therapy management program from community-based retail pharmacies" (House version).

Did you see what I see?

The bills only allow pharmaCIES to contract with the PDPs, not pharmaCISTS.

That's where we, the pharmaCISTS, need to take action. This morning, as soon as my Congressman (Zack Space D-OH) opens his office, I'm calling to talk about the House bill. I'm going to tell him to support getting the bill through committee and onto the floor for a vote. But I'm going to see what he can do about the language of the bill to see that pharmaCISTS are the entities that can contract with the PDPs and get reimbursed for the professional services that are provided.

PharmaCIES are buildings from which prescription medications are dispensed. PharmaCISTS are the professionals who provide medical care to patients who enter our pharmacies. It's time for all of us, as pharmaCISTS, to get off of our collective asses and start contacting the elected officials in Washington DC to get something done.

We can't count on the APhA to lobby the House and Senate, it's up to us to stay on their backs to get these bills out of committee, voted on, and on the President's desk to be signed into law. Just remember to push for the reimbursement to go to the pharmaCISTS who are providing the MTM services, not to the pharmaCIES.


Rajendra "Raj" Bhat RPh said...

Tampa Pharmacist Challenges Medco - Announces Hunger Strike

SUMMARY - Pharmacist Rajendra Bhat says Medco is putting the public at risk with unrealistic demands on their employees. Medco's quotas don't give pharmacists enough time to check for errors with prescriptions, he said, which could harm or even kill a patient. Now, Bhat is risking his own health to draw attention to the issue with a hunger strike which started July 5, 2010.

July 6, 2010. TAMPA, Florida For pharmacist Rajendra Bhat, the main reasons for

his lawsuit against Medco are not about money.

For him, it's about professional ethics. It's about the honor of his profession. Most

importantly, it's about the health and safety of the public. "We are asking the court to

order Medco to stop interfering with pharmacists' judgment," Bhat said.

In short, Bhat says that Medco's quota system, which requires their pharmacists to process 45 to 55 prescriptions an hour, is too much. Pharmacists are being forced to cut corners on public safety, he said.

When faced with a prescription that might not be legit, or where the doctor's intention isn't clear to them, Medco's pharmacists have to make a difficult choice.

They can call the doctor to straighten out any issues, but that takes time and keeps them from making quota.

Or, they can choose not to call the doctor and do their best to figure things out on their own in little over a minute. The pharmacist still makes quota, but risks the patient's health and leaves him open to civil liability.



Submitted by:


Dawn Hudson, Publicist

zBizcCo LLC

(813) 842-7064



Randall O. Reder P.A.

Florida Bar No. 264210

1319 W. Fletcher Ave.

Tampa, FL. 33612-3310

(813) 960-1952

Fax; (813) 265-0940


PR ON BLOG TOO: http://ihungerstrike.blogspot.com/p/for-immediate-release.html
Join me on Facebook - Raj Bhat Hunger Strike vs Medco

- Raj

Guzzo said...

You're right. Even though the introduction of this Bill highlights the impact individual pharmacists have made in MTM, the meat of the Bill seems to have been written to empower their employers. A skeptical pharmacist might even think that this Bill was intentionally worded as such by our industry and organizational "colleagues".

Here's a link to the Bill -


There are also other clauses that specify the word "pharmacy" instead of "pharmacist". One clause even reads that "other health care providers" can provide MTM services.

So, I took your advice and wrote to my own state's senators (Kyl and McCain) to voice my support for this Bill, but only with changes to the Bill to reflect that only "pharmacists" be allowed to provide, and be reimbursed for, these services.

I'm also going to write the Senate finance subcommittee members.

Anonymous said...

Several PDPs in my area use in-house pharmacists or other health care workers to provide the MTM services. No pharmacist-patient relationship at all. Wonder how much input they had in the bill.

muebles said...

This will not truly have success, I consider so.