MTM bill seeks to help seniors manage medications, reduce healthcare costs

July 15, 2010

Sens. Kay R. Hagan (D-N.C.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) have introduced The Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Expanded Benefits Act, a bill that will allow seniors with one chronic illness to thoroughly review all their medications with a pharmacist in a one-on-one session.

Washington, D.C. - Sens. Kay R. Hagan (D-N.C.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) have introduced the Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Expanded Benefits Act, a bill that will allow seniors with one chronic illness to thoroughly review all their medications with a pharmacist in a one-on-one session.

"This bill will allow seniors with one chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, to bring all of their medications to the pharmacy and ensure they are following doctor's orders," said Hagan, who sits on the Senate committee that oversees healthcare issues. "If more seniors properly follow their medication regimens, we can save lives and Medicare dollars. These programs have already helped North Carolina save money, and our seniors have avoided countless healthcare problems. I will be working with my colleagues to advance this important bill in Congress."

"Medication therapy management has helped many seniors enjoy the highest possible quality of life while managing chronic illness," said Franken, who also sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "It's time we end the barriers currently keeping so many more from benefiting from this program. It's just common sense to ensure that Minnesota seniors are taking medication as prescribed. It will save our country money and keep our families healthy."

Seniors who participate in the expanded MTM programs, which Hagan included successfully as an amendment in the healthcare bill, will receive an MTM review annually. Currently, 12.9% of Medicare Part D Beneficiaries, all of whom have multiple chronic illnesses, are eligible for these programs. Hagan’s MTM bill would allow seniors with one chronic illness to participate.

The North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission launched Checkmeds NC in 2007 to provide MTM services to North Carolina seniors. More than 15,000 North Carolina seniors and 285 pharmacists participated during the program’s first year. The program saved about $10 million.

An MTM session can make a real difference in a patient’s life, said Abby Caplan, a Kerr pharmacist in Zebulon, N.C.

"I met with a couple and upon reviewing their medications, the wife stated she had 'given up' several of her medications because she felt her husband's conditions were more important than hers," Caplan said. "I was able to recommend several cost effective substitutes for both the husband and wife to help with their monthly cost savings. I also explained the importance and indication for each medicine. Upon completion of the MTM session, the wife looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, 'Thank you so much. I feel like I should hug you' - which she did."

In the United States, about half of all patients do not follow their doctor’s orders regarding their medications. It is estimated that the overall cost of patients’ nonadherence to drug regimens is as much as $290 billion per year, according to a recent analysis conducted by the New England Healthcare Institute.