Bill Would Allow One-Stop Collection of Medications, Promote Adherence
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson and Craig Coughlin to make it easier for individuals who need multiple prescription drugs to access their medications was advanced by a Senate panel on Thursday.
“By making it more convenient for patients to pick up prescription drugs, we can increase the likelihood that people will take the medications they need, which will keep them well and reduce overall health care costs,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation is a simple way to move us toward a healthier New Jersey.”
Medication synchronization, or “med sync,” allows a patient to pick up refills for all of his or her monthly prescriptions on the same day instead of having to make multiple trips to a pharmacy each month. Streamlining refills has been shown to increase medication adherence, thus lowering overall long-term health care expenditures.
Because some insurers may deny claims for a “short fill,” or less than a 30-day supply of a drug, however, patients may be left to cover the cost of these partial fills, which are inherent to the synchronization process, said Benson.
Should a patient elect to align his or her refills, the bill (A-3331) would require insurers to cover the synchronization of prescribed medications under plans that provide prescription drug benefits. Under the legislation, insurers would be required to:
(1) apply a prorated daily cost-sharing rate to prescriptions a network pharmacy dispenses for less than a 30-day supply if a prescriber or pharmacist indicates the fill or refill is in the best interest of the patient or is for the purpose of medical synchronization;
(2) provide coverage for prescriptions to treat a chronic illness dispensed in accordance with a plan among the patient, the prescriber and the pharmacist to synchronize the refilling of multiple prescriptions for the patient; and
(3) determine dispensing fees based exclusively on the total number of prescriptions dispensed and not on a prorated basis.
The bill would enable patients to synchronize prescriptions without having to pay a full month’s cost-sharing when less than a month’s supply of medication is dispensed until all medications are on the same 30-day refill schedule.
“For some patients dealing with conditions that require several medications, making multiple trips to the pharmacy can be burdensome, and in the case of those with limited mobility, simply arranging to get there may be difficult in and of itself,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “In addition to being more cost-effective, synchronizing refills will make it easier for patients to access all their prescription drugs, making it more likely that they will take medications as prescribed.”
The measure, which received Assembly approval in June, was advanced by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.