A pharmaceutical industry lobbyist is in Iowa, trying to convince lawmakers they shouldn’t enact new rules for the Medicaid program that seek to reduce the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. Jeff Trewhitt of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is lobbying against what’s called “prior authorization.” Trewhitt says if a drug is not on the “preferred drug list” a doctor would have to get special permission from a Medicaid program officer to proscribe the drug.Trewhitt says there can be unnecessary delays and faulty rejections of the use of a drug. Trewhitt says nearly 20 years ago, New Hampshire enacted strict drug rules only to find more poor elderly wound up in nursing home care because they weren’t getting meds that’d keep ’em healthier at home. Trewhitt says there can be cost savings in other areas of the Medicaid program, and it’d be a “major mistake” to focus on just the drug benefit. Other states have adopted such systems to control drug costs, and more like Iowa are considering such budget cutting measures. Trewhitt was in five states just last week, lobbying against plans similar to Iowa’s. The Senate is scheduled to debate a Medicaid savings plan this week.
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