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Medicaid Faces New Mandate

Because of a federal mandate, state Medicaid agencies will be required to make use of tamper-resistant prescription drug pads for outpatient drugs given to Medicaid recipients effective April 1, 2008.

Larry Iversen, division director for medical services for the Department of Social Services, said a prescription pad should meet one of three characteristics: It should prevent unauthorized copying, it must prevent erasure or modification of a written prescription or it must prevent the use of counterfeit forms. At first, the federal government required the changes to be made by Oct. 1.

Iversen said, "Unfortunately, the government didn't give the states guidance on this until Aug. 17, which didn't give us a lot of time."

Therefore, working in conjunction with various medical associations throughout the state, the Department of Social Services determined that using a gel ink pen would meet the second condition.

Iversen said that gel ink was chosen because the ink actually became embedded in the paper.

He said, "You can't wash the ink out of the paper, so by using this pen you prevent erasure."

The change, which the government has now amended to start next April, will have an effect on any medical provider that is able to write a prescription, Iversen said.

It will however not have much effect on consumers, he said.

Iversen said, "First of all, it only impacts paper prescription forms. It doesn't affect any electronic prescribing, and if orders are faxed into a pharmacy. It doesn't affect a script where the individual doesn't actually take it and go to the pharmacy."

Iversen said if a prescription found that is not compliant with the change; the pharmacy has 72 hours to get a comparison from the physician who wrote it.

Iversen said, "So there's a way here that if somebody needs their drugs right away and don't have the tamper-resistant form, then they can still get the drugs they need, but there's a 72-hour window to follow up in."

For the medical providers who are by now not using the gel ink pens, the Department of Social Services has purchased a supply and will be distributing them to all presently enrolled Medicaid providers within the next week.



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