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Pain pill prescriptions through TennCare up

Pain pill prescriptions through TennCare up
NASHVILLE (AP) — The number of narcotics prescriptions dispensed through the TennCare program has increased by 48 percent over the last four years despite efforts to end abuse.
Those efforts include a program called lock-ins, which forces a patient to fill prescriptions at a specific pharmacy.
The state’s Medicaid program also caps the number of pills that can be dispensed during each doctor’s visit and requires patients to use 85 percent of a prescription before they can get a refill.
State Sen. Ken Yager sponsored legislation last year requiring pain clinics to register with the state, have a doctor present at least 20 percent of the time and not accept cash payments.
The Harriman Republican told The Tennessean that he would like to restrict TennCare payouts to managed-care organizations for pain medication, but federal regulations may prevent that.
“I have been discussing with staff how we can get a handle on that, because TennCare is paying for this,” Yager said.
In 2011, TennCare spent $49 million on narcotics, up from $33 million in 2007.
So far, Tennessee, like many other states, has been reluctant to disclose the names of doctors who overprescribe pain pills.
TennCare identifies the top 100 prescribers, but the only action it takes is to notify the doctors that they are on the list.
TennCare Pharmacy Director Nicole Woods said that has been enough to change the prescribing habits of many providers.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
Published in The Messenger 1.31.12

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