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One Thing Washington Can Agree On: Time for E-Prescribing in Medicare

New Poll Shows Rural Seniors Want E-Prescribing in Medicare

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Washington gridlocks on so many issues, promoting electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) in Medicare is emerging as one issue that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on. "The Medicare Electronic Medication and Safety Protection (E-MEDS) Act of 2007," which will require that Medicare physicians begin to prescribe electronically, will save lives and money, and also fits perfectly into any Medicare package being discussed on Capitol Hill, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said today.

Public support for e-prescribing in Medicare is strong. A new national poll finds that seniors in rural areas by a 2-1 margin think e-prescribing sounds like a good idea and support requiring rural Medicare providers to use the technology while allowing them additional assistance to adopt the system. Conducted by Ayres, McHenry & Associates, the poll of 600 seniors in mostly rural counties also shows that half of the seniors questioned take four or more prescription medicines on a regular basis. Half of these seniors are very or somewhat concerned that a new drug they are prescribed could lead to a negative reaction with other drugs they take.

E-prescribing improves safety by alerting a doctor when a drug they are about to prescribe might dangerously interact with other medications already being taken by their patient. E-prescribing also eliminates errors resulting from sloppy handwritten prescriptions being misread at the pharmacy counter.

"The E-MEDS Act addresses the single greatest barrier to e-prescribing adoption: lack of urgency in the physician community to modernize the way they prescribe. Unless all physicians face real consequences for continuing business as usual, few will begin e-prescribing and seniors will pay the price," said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. "PCMA applauds the bipartisan leadership supporting this important health care issue being included in any Medicare package before Congress."

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that approximately 1.5 million preventable medication errors harm Americans each year and that some 7,000 people die annually as a result. To remedy this, the IOM admonished all doctors to begin e-prescribing by 2010. Surveys show that less than one in ten doctors currently choose to prescribe electronically and two-thirds don't view it as a priority.

Bipartisan momentum for the E-MEDS Act is building in the Senate with leadership from:

* Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

* Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)

* Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

* Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

* Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

* Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)

* Sen. John Sununu (R-NH)

* Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)

* Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.)

* Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

A companion bill in the House is supported by:

* Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Penn.)

* Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.)

* Rep. John Porter (R-Nev.)

* Rep. Phil English (R-Penn.)

* Rep. Thomas Allen (D-ME)

* Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)

* Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY)

* Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.)

* Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.)

The legislation has also been strongly endorsed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA). A broad coalition of consumer, union, business, purchaser groups, and other prescription drug stakeholders is also calling on Congress to ensure that physicians use e-prescribing in Medicare by 2010.

The letter and poll are available at

PCMA is the national association representing America's pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which administer prescription drug plans for more than 210 million Americans with health coverage provided through Fortune 500 employers, health insurance plans, labor unions, and Medicare Part D.

SOURCE Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
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