Republicans in the Iowa Senate are pressing to require a face-to-face review with a pharmacist whenever a Medicaid recipient in Iowa gets a new prescription from their doctor. Senator Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, says it’s about controlling costs.

“Medical therapy management is a concept that is utilizing local pharamacists in meeting with patients who’ve been prescribed medications from their doctor and making sure there are no harmful interactions,” Dix says, “that they’re taking them properly and also looking to find potential savings if they can use generics and things like that.”

In 2005, the legislature in Minnesota set up a system which pays licensed pharmacists to conduct these sorts of consultations with Minnesotans who quality for government-paid health insurance. Dix says Iowa has had a similar pilot program and it’s time to expand it statewide for Iowans who qualify for Medicaid.

“In the pilot project that medical therapy management technique has shown to potentially save the state million of dollars, on top of what’s currently being saved,” Dix says. “It holds strong promise to save taxpayes a lot of money and to ensure better care of the patients.”

Medicaid provides health care to Iowans who are disabled, low income and to thousands of children whose parents cannot afford health insurance. In addition, many senior citizens on Medicare are part of similar medical therapy management programs, as a result of the prescription drug benefit extended to seniors a decade ago.

A 2006 study found 65 percent of elderly patients were prescribed a drug that was unnecessary. And a study conducted last year found nearly half of all Americans used at least one prescription drug in the previous month.