Limiting safety, care
In January 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare implemented a limit on the number of monthly prescriptions for patients on Medicaid. An arbitrary limit of six prescriptions was chosen as a policy to save the state money.
Though there are some exceptions for chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, this policy severely limits my sickest patients from obtaining medications they need. Furthermore, physicians and patients are often unaware of the policy until their prescriptions are denied.
I agree on the need to limit growing medical costs, including cutting back on inappropriate prescribing. However, prescription limits have never been shown to improve patient care or decrease costs.
Studies have found costs actually increase as a result of increased hospital admissions and emergency-room visits by patients denied medications. Pennsylvania is no exception, and preliminary data on the limits recently released by the department clearly show an increasing number of emergency-room visits by patients denied medications.
The Medicaid prescription drug limit was designed to save the state money with the hope it would not impact patient care. More emergency-room visits put into question the cost savings. More importantly, arbitrary limits intruding into medical decision-making may impact patient safety and the quality of care I provide.
Cost containment for Medicaid needs to happen. However, the prescription drug limit is an unsafe and likely ineffective measure that needs to be repealed while better alternatives are explored.
New Sewickley Township
The writer is a pharmacist.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.