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.