A consultation with a pharmacist can be critical for any patient with questions about a new prescription--are there side effects to look out for? How and when should the drug be taken? What are the risks of taking multiple medications at once?
For older adults, particularly those living with HIV/AIDS, these questions are especially critical given the many medications they are often taking; this conversation with a pharmacist can be life-saving. With this in mind, SAGE has submitted the following memorandum in support of new legislation that will ensure that consumers cannot be required to receive their prescriptions by mail under certain health plans. The legislation has been put forward by Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane), and New York State Assembly Member Carl E. Heastie.
By ensuring that consumers can access the guidance of a pharmacist, this new legislation will help older adults live longer, healthier lives.
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT
A5723B (Heastie) / S3995B (Maziarz)
ANTI-MANDATORY MAIL ORDER DRUG LEGISLATION
SAGE strongly supports passage of A.5723A (Heastie)/S.3995A (Maziarz). This legislation is necessary to clarify and strengthen provisions in current law to ensure that consumers can have the choice of accessing their covered medications from a local pharmacy or by mail order. Legislation—which went into effect in 2012—was was supposed to guarantee this choice, but it has not worked as intended because consumers continue be directed to out-of-state specialty pharmacies and are unable to fill their prescriptions at local pharmacies. This legislation would better define terms and remove provisions in current law that have served to impose extra requirements on network community pharmacies as a precondition for providing covered medications otherwise available by mail order.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. The mission of SAGE is to lead in addressing issues related to LGBT aging. In partnership with constituents and allies, SAGE works to achieve a high quality of life for LGBT older adults, supports and advocates for their rights, fosters a greater understanding of aging in all communities and promotes positive images of LGBT life in later years.
SAGE has seen the ways in which mail order requirements can complicate the health choices and health outcomes of LGBT older people, in particular those living with HIV and those managing multiple chronic conditions with life-saving medications. For example, People with HIV/AIDS are increasingly age 50 and older and many are disproportionately LGBT. Additionally, older adults in particular face challenges managing increased chronic conditions and multiple medications, many of which can rely on discussions with local pharmacists for proper medication management. And delivery delays are far too common—and could be disastrous. If a client is not at home to receive the medication, the mail carrier needs to make multiple attempts. In some instances, expensive medications that need to be refrigerated have spoiled or been stolen when left outside in front of the door by a mail carrier. This means that individuals who run out of medications may need to skip doses, which can lead to drug resistance, compromised overall health and more expensive and intensive treatment.
SAGE believes that consumers are the ones who decide whether to receive medications by mail or from a local pharmacy. This decision should not be left up to an insurance company. A. 5723A/ S. 3995A provides an important protection for the people we serve and we strongly support its enactment. For further information, please contact Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE at 212-741-2247.