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Managed Medicaid seeing more Rx claims


Significant variation across states and therapeutic areas continue to exist after shifting to managed-care Medicaid

The shift of Medicaid patients from fee-for-service to managed Medicaid during 2011 resulted in a massive shift of prescriptions nationally. Nearly half of all Medicaid prescriptions are now filled by managed Medicaid, according to a recent study released by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

The number of monthly prescriptions dispensed through such managed care plans increased from 4.9 million in September 2011 to 12.5 million in June 2012. With many states playing a bigger role through Medicaid expansion, the trend will likely continue.

The IMS Institute studied prescription drug utilization in four states that have moved a substantial number of Medicaid beneficiaries to managed care. The study analyzed the impact of care on managed Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio since 2011 in three therapeutic areas: antipsychotics, diabetes agents, and respiratory medications.

“We compared prescription drug use for the cohort of patients for nine to 12 months before moving into a managed Medicare plan and then nine to 12 months after the change to managed Medicaid. We also took a look at a cohort of patients who were in a fee-for-service model and remained there,” says Murray Aitken, executive director, IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. “While it is still early days, our research reveals some important signs of impact.”

Antipsychotic use

All four states analyzed in the study demonstrated a greater use of antipsychotic generic drugs when available for managed Medicaid beneficiaries compared with fee-for-service Medicaid patients, Aitken says.

“The generic utilization rates for managed Medicaid patients taking antipsychotics were between 3% and 14% higher than for fee-for-service patients in each state after the policy shifts,” he says. “Patients in managed Medicaid plans in Kentucky and New Jersey were more likely to be using generic antipsychotic medicines compared to those in fee-for-service plans.”

During the study period, both Zyprexa and Seroquel lost patent exclusivity and generics became available. In the post-policy shift period, more than 55% of managed Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky were using antipsychotic generics. In Ohio, the percentage was about 47%, in New Jersey, it was about 48%, and in New York, it was 51%.

“There is still variation in terms of the extent to which generics are used. In addition, there is also a variation in terms of managed Medicaid plans versus fee-for-service plans,” Aitken says.

Diabetes care

The IMS study also showed the impact upon care of diabetes patients moved to managed Medicaid plans.

In New York, more diabetes patients received diabetes drugs, with an increase in the average number of prescriptions in the post-policy shift period of 5%, and a change from an annualized average of 11.2 scripts per patient to 11.8 scripts per patient. In the fee-for-service cohort, the average number of diabetes medications remained stable at about 12 scripts before and after policy changes.

“Aggressive management of diabetes is understood by the managed Medicaid plans to be an important way to manage the overall costs. With the prescription drug benefits being carved in now, there is a greater incentive for the plans to be optimizing the treatment overall for the patient,” Aitken says. “We also saw a greater use of metformin and the lower-cost drugs for the treatment of diabetes.”

Respiratory medications

Patients in Kentucky with respiratory disorders who were switched to managed Medicaid had an increased utilization rate of 5% compared to only a 3% increase for the patients who remained in fee-for-service Medicaid during the study. In New Jersey and Ohio, managed care patients used 1% more prescriptions per patient in each state. All managed Medicaid programs showed an increase in scripts per patient per month.

“It would be interesting to talk to state Medicaid directors in these different states to compare notes on what is going on,” Aitken says. “We also see absolute levels of some of these drugs. When you see significant variations, it would be difficult to conclude that everyone is optimized.”

Fee-for-service patients in Kentucky, Ohio, and New Jersey used approximately 26% to 27% more respiratory prescriptions per patient than managed care patients did, both before and after the policy shift.

This was consistent with the policy that more severely ill patients remain on fee-for-service payment models.

Significant variation across states and therapeutic areas continue to exist after shifting to managed-care Medicaid, the study noted. Further analyses are warranted to determine the impact on health outcomes and the overall costs associated with Medicaid programs. Each year states will need to assess the impact of these programs on the health of the population.

Edith A. Rosato, RPh, IOM, CEO of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy said in a press statement that the academy was encouraged by the positive results of the study on patients who received care through managed Medicaid programs.

“Given the variability in state programs, managed Medicaid plans will need to be continually evaluated,” Rosato said. “Initial findings suggest that patients could be better managed in these programs, particularly when the drug benefit is carved into a state’s managed care plan rather than maintained in a fee-for-service program.”

The report was presented April 4 during the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Annual Meeting in San Diego.

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