O’Brien bill helps patients fill prescriptions at once; gives relief to pharmacists for higher costs

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich.—Legislation introduced this week by state Senator Margaret O’Brien would allow patients who are prescribed multiple medications to get their prescriptions filled at the same time through medication synchronization.

Senate Bill 150 also provides relief for pharmacists who may have difficulty getting reimbursed by insurance companies for only filling those partial prescriptions during a patient’s synchronization process.

“Managing multiple medications can be confusing and time consuming, and this is a common sense way to help make the process more convenient for anyone on multiple medications,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “By asking insurance providers to prorate their copays, we can ensure patients are being served best and pharmacists are being properly compensated for their care.”

Medication synchronization, or medsync, empowers pharmacists to write “short fill” or “long fill” prescriptions so they all come due on a single date. While this practice is more convenient for patients and ensures they don’t miss critical doses of their medication, it creates a potential problem for pharmacists because health insurance companies typically do not reimburse them for partial prescriptions.

O’Brien’s bill addresses this issue by requiring health insurance providers to prorate their copay amounts for patients who are only partially filling a prescription for synching.

Clearing this health-provider-health-insurance hurdle will improve the pharmacist-patient partnership and cut down on the number of trips patients are forced to make to the drug store. It also helps them better stay on their prescriptions, improves medication adherence and may reduce emergency room visits and other avoidable health care costs.

The National Community Pharmacists Association found last year that patients who opt-in to medication synchronization programs average more than 100 additional days on their critical prescriptions per year, and are 30 percent more likely to take their medication as prescribed than patients not enrolled in a synchronization program.

“The more convenient it is for a patient to get the medication that their doctor prescribed, the more likely they are to take and stay on them” said O’Brien. “Patients who regularly take the medication they are prescribed don’t just stay healthier, they also avoid more costly medical treatments like emergency room visits and hospitalizations, which saves money for taxpayers and health care consumers alike.”

According to a study by the New England Healthcare Institute, medication nonadherence—such as missing doses because a prescription was not filled or picked up on time—costs an estimated $290 billion each year in emergency room visits and other avoidable healthcare costs.

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Senator Margaret O’Brien comments on Governor’s 2016 budget plan

OBrienLANSING, Mich.—State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, issued the following statement after Governor Rick Snyder presented his Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal Wednesday at a joint hearing of the Senate and House Appropriations committees:

“Michigan’s strong economic recovery continues, and I appreciate that Governor Snyder’s 2016 budget proposal further invests in our state’s future. It is important that we prioritize education, and I am particularly supportive of the governor’s focus on early childhood education and on vocational, career technical education and skilled trades training programs. They are strong alternatives to traditional four-year colleges that prepare students for good, high-paying jobs. I also appreciate that the governor’s budget focuses on strengthening public safety and supporting local governments, which are vitally important.

“Overall, this budget strikes a good balance between strategic investments and fiscal responsibility. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the governor’s administration as we begin the budget process.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments from Senator O’Brien are available on the senator’s website at www.SenatorMargaretOBrien.com.

State orders audit of I-94 following historic January pileup

Governor, MDOT respond to Senator O’Brien’s inquiry

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. – State Senator Margaret O’Brien announced on Friday that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has commissioned a Road Safety Audit for the stretch of Interstate 94 that runs between the Michigan-Indiana border and the city of Jackson.

“I am pleased Governor Snyder has agreed with my recommendation to conduct a Road Safety Audit of Interstate 94,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Residents of Kalamazoo County are concerned about the high number of accidents on the freeway, and as a daily driver of this section of I-94 myself, I agree this historic January 9 accident was more than just driver error.”

The audit comes in response to a letter O’Brien sent to Governor Rick Snyder after the deadly January 9 crash that involved 193 vehicles near Galesburg. The senator requested the administration and MDOT coordinate to complete a study on the eastbound section of the highway where the crash occurred, and offer recommendations on possible changes to the roadway.

The pileup is widely considered to be the worst in the state’s history, but as O’Brien noted in her letter to the governor, the 12 mile stretch of I-94 that runs through Kalamazoo County is particularly dangerous. In 2011, there were 230 accidents; in 2012, there were 222 accidents; and there were 275 accidents in 2013.

O’Brien said it is clear that the road should be examined for improvements to better serve motorists.

“We must ensure that all conditions of a road are considered—the geography of the land, the weather and other factors—when redesigning our roads,” O’Brien said. “I applaud the administration for looking in to this issue and working with both our road agencies and public safety officials to thoroughly study I-94. I am hopeful that an extensive study will offer data-driven solutions and lead to increased safety on our roads.”

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