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Coordinating Prescription Refills is About To Get Easier

Posted: 25-Feb-2018

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For some patients in Mississippi, being prescribed several medications means three, four or more trips to the pharmacy each month. That could change under a bill that legislators sent to the governor in February. The legislation would require insurance companies to cover partial subscription refills for the purpose of synchronizing medications.

If someone received one medication from their doctor on the first of the month, a second on the 15th and a third on the 20th, the patient would have three separate refill dates.

A pharmacy may have to give a patient a 15-day supply to get the medications synced, but some insurance companies have denied reimbursement for those scripts.

"There are so many people, elderly people that can't drive and they depend on other people to take them to the pharmacy and they really feel guilty about asking their neighbors and relatives to take them to the drug store to get some pills," said Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, who authored the bill. "This is truly a bill for the elderly and the handicapped if we've ever had one."

Synchronizing medication is more than just a logistics solution.

"In turn, it helps the patient stay more compliant with their medication and with that their health care improves," said Robert Dozier, executive director of the Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association. "The total amount of health care dollars spent goes down because the patient is staying healthy."

Right now, Dozier said, patients are only getting their prescriptions filled every 45 days.

Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, said rather than requiring patients to ask, the legislation will compel insurance companies to synchronize the prescriptions for each of their patients.

Another bill, authored by Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, and awaiting consideration from the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, would give patients more payment options at the pharmacy.

Under the bill, pharmacists would be able to inform patients if their copay is more expensive than the cash price of the medication their picking up. 

"If you go in there and the copay is $100, if you paid out of pocket, the pharmacy cash price may be $25 but the pharmacist cannot tell you that because they are under a gag order from the pharmacy benefit manager."

A pharmacy benefit manager is an intermediary between insurance companies and pharmacies, which sets reimbursement rates and approves claims.

Contact Anna Wolfe at 601-961-7326 or awolfe@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter.

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