Congress addresses the elephant in the room: Cost savings yielded by pharmacy-based MTM
A 12-to-1 return on investment. That’s what researchers in Minnesota estimated public and private health plan payers can get when they pay pharmacists to provide medication therapy management.
As reported by the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, the study of 285 beneficiaries enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota found that every dollar invested in the delivery of MTM by community pharmacists yielded more than $12 “in total annual health expenditures.” Another MTM project in North Carolina, this from Kerr Drug, yielded a return on investment of 13-to-1. And that’s just the economic benefit. Both programs also led to healthier patients and better outcomes, particularly for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
For those advocating more support for pharmaceutical therapy and pharmacy-based health services, here’s another nugget: The Congressional Budget Office projected last fall that every 1% increase in overall prescription drug utilization cut overall health costs by $1.7 billion.
Last week, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores cited the Minnesota and Kerr Drug results in praising a new effort in Congress to promote wider adoption and use of pharmacist-provided MTM. As reported by Drug Store News senior editor Michael Johnsen, both the chain and independent pharmacy lobbies strongly endorse the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013, sponsored by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers [R-WA.] and Ron Kind [D-WI.]. The bill would expand the pool of patients who qualify for MTM programs through Medicare.
Introducing the bill March 7, McMorris Rodgers correctly pointed out that “more than half of all patients do not take their medications correctly, and seniors are particularly vulnerable.
“These health risks and the exorbitant costs associated with them can be substantially reduced if MTM is expanded," she continued. "This bill will reduce costs and promote overall health for seniors … all across America.”
This isn’t the first time federal lawmakers have tried to leverage the power of pharmacists to boost patient outcomes and drive cost savings through MTM and drug adherence programs; a similar bill was floated in 2010. Let’s hope the message gets through this time.
As always, your comments are welcome.