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Steans bill would remove bureaucracy between nursing home residents, medicines

steans 040716To protect patients and reduce spending on unnecessary medications, the 2012 SMART Act allowed Medicaid clients to fill only four prescriptions per month without special authorization from a doctor. The provision encourages patients on medical assistance to visit a primary care physician who can coordinate their care and keep an eye out for overmedication and dangerous drug interactions.

But nursing home residents typically don’t have that problem. They’re less likely to visit multiple doctors’ offices and clinics that don’t communicate with each other, and federal law already requires nursing home pharmacies to review their patients’ drug regimens once a month. The four-prescription cap just adds an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy between senior citizens, most of whom take multiple medications to treat and control chronic conditions, and the medicines they need.

State Senator Heather Steans is sponsoring legislation to exempt nursing home residents from the four-drug monthly limit. The measure, Senate Bill 2795, was approved by the Senate Public Health Committee this week and is now up for a vote in the full Senate.

Several types of medications, including anti-psychotic drugs and drugs commonly prescribed to HIV/AIDS and cancer patients, are already exempt from the four-prescription limit.

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