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Sweeney, Greenstein Initiative to Improve Medicaid Prescription Drug Services Wins Senate Approval

Trenton– Legislation authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Linda Greenstein that would improve the quality of care in the Medicaid program by identifying multi-drug medication risk and reducing adverse drug effects was passed by the Senate today.

The bill, S-887, would push the state to initiate reforms that improve prescription safety and quality by requiring the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services in the Department of Human Services to contract with a third-party entity to apply a risk reduction model to prescription drug services under the Medicaid program.

“We need to make sure that Medicaid funds are used appropriately and efficiently, and that the pharmaceutical services we provide are appropriate and safe,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Putting in the proper controls will save lives and prevent unnecessary hospital and doctor visits caused by adverse drug events.”

“People today are on multiple medications. We must do everything we can to ensure that prescribers and patients understand how these medications work together in the safest and most effective way,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “By implementing various strategies that have proven successful in other markets, we can reduce the risk of adverse drug events for those in the Medicaid program.”

Nationwide, adverse drug events cause health problems that contribute to more than 3.5 million physician office visits, 1.3 million emergency room visits and 350,000 hospitalizations, cause extended lengths of stay and are the leading preventable cause of hospital readmissions, Dr. Calvin Knowlton, CEO of Tabula Rasa HealthCare, testified before the Senate Health Committee last September.

The Senate vote was 32-0.