Legislation could delay requirement for tamper-resistant prescription pad

Amadeus Smith

New legislation passed by U.S. Congress could delay implementation of a law that mandates the use of tamper-resistant prescription pads for Medicaid prescriptions.

By requiring all written or non-electronic prescriptions to be written on the tamper-resistant pads the only way to attain medication, the law prevents fraud and theft of drugs.

U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson (D-OH) introduced a bill Sept. 24 to delay the implementation, which was supposed to go into effect today, for six months.

According to a press release from Wilson’s office, “the guidance that states needed to implement the requirement were not issued by Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services until Aug. 17.” This gave Medicaid agencies about six weeks to notify prescription providers, pharmacists and recipients.

“They’re doing a very poor job of letting doctors know,” said Kathy Drnjevich, a nurse at Triangle Pharmacy in Ravenna.

The law, a section of the U.S Troops Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007, states that any pharmacy filling a prescription that is not written on the tamper-resistant pad would have the entire reimbursement taken back on audit. The alternative is to not fill the prescription.

Hillary Wicai Viers, communications director for Wilson, said without a delay, independent pharmacists are at risk to go out of business because many recipients don’t have the proper pads.

“If that independent pharmacist is not reimbursed by the federal government, that pharmacist could lose the pharmacy,” Viers said. “If these pharmacists go out of business, who do we have to serve the people?”

At the same time, pharmacies could choose to not fill the prescriptions, leaving recipients at risk.

“It’s an inconvenience and a health concern for patients,” said Kelly Vyzral, director of government affairs at the Ohio Pharmacists Association.

According to the Business Intelligence Channel at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, there are more than 4,000 Medicaid recipients in Ravenna, more than 3,000 in Kent and more than 1,000 in Streetsboro, all of which could be affected by the implementation of the law.

Vyzral said doctors will also be affected because they currently won’t be reimbursed for the new pads, which cost about $15-$20 each.

“It falls on the prescriber to pay for them,” she said.

However, Drnjevich said many doctors in the area already have the proper pads to use. She also said, however, if people need time to adjust, she thinks six months will be enough time.

In Wilson’s press release, Wilson also said the delay was necessary for everyone to prepare for the change.

“A six-month delay is just good sense,” Wilson said. “I want to do the right thing and allow doctors, pharmacists and patients the time needed to study the new law and properly prepare for it.”

Wilson’s legislation was preceded by two others requesting the tamper-proof prescription to only be applied to schedule II narcotics. Wilson was the chief sponsor of H.R. 3090, legislation that limited the requirement to schedule II narcotics. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced S. 2013 which also limited the requirement to schedule II narcotics initially and as put an 18-month delay on implementation.

Contact city editor Amadeus Smith at [email protected].