Doctors Unprepared for New Medicaid Rx Pad Rules
Millions of Medicaid beneficiaries might "not be able to obtain their medications" after Oct. 1, when a law requiring pharmacists to reject prescriptions not written on tamper-resistant pads goes into effect, pharmacist groups wrote in a recent letter to lawmakers, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
The new law is a "tiny provision tucked into a spending bill" for the Iraq war, according to the Post-Intelligencer.
The law was designed to make it more difficult for patients to obtain controlled substances through forged prescriptions and to save the government money. Some tamper-proof pads contain identifying serial numbers that can be matched to the doctor's prescription. Others contain a chemical that makes the prescription illegible when photocopied.
Most doctors are not aware of the law and do not use the pads, the AP/Post-Intelligencer reports.
Edward Langston, chair of the board of trustees for the American Medical Association, said that the federal law's "implementation timetable is too short to educate prescribing physicians ... and is also likely too short to produce and distribute the enormous quantity of new prescription pads that will be needed."
Several states already require such use of tamper-resistant pads, often only for controlled substances. Those states typically gave doctors at least a full year to comply with the law.
Paul Kelly, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said the group's members are "absolutely flabbergasted that they're going to be put on the hook for denying prescriptions" of patients whose physicians have not complied with the law.
CMS spokesperson Steve Hahn said the agency has no plans to change the Oct. 1 deadline (Freking, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/18).