December 17, 2007 - As Washington gridlocks on so many issues, promoting electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) in Medicare is emerging as one issue 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 said to save lives and money and fits perfectly into any Medicare package being discussed on Capitol Hill, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said Dec. 13.
The PCMA said public support for e-prescribing in Medicare is strong. A new national poll finds 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 and 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,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. “Unless all physicians face real consequences for continuing business as usual, few will begin e-prescribing and seniors will pay the price. The 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 about 1.5 million preventable medication errors harm Americans each year and about 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 10 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-MA)
- Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
- Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
- Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)
- Sen. John Sununu (R-NH)
- Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
- Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
A companion bill in the House is supported by:
- Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA)
- Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
- Rep. John Porter (R-NV)
- Rep. Phil English (R-PA)
- Rep. Thomas Allen (D-ME)
- Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
- Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY)
- Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA)
- Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)
For more information: http://www.pcmanet.org/