October 14, 2014
Contact: Eric Kiehl, 717-221-7935
Cell: 717-599-2077

Governor Signs Bill That Could Reduce Medication Errors, Expense for Veterans

Measure that would allow veterans in personal care homes, assisted living residences to use repackaged medications purchased through the VA signed into law

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Health Care Association/Center for Assisted Living Management (PHCA/CALM) applauds the Governor and members of the state Senate and House of Representatives for their support of SB 1224, the VA Meds Repackaging Bill, which adds personal care homes and assisted living residences to the list of locations where Veteran’s Administration (VA) medications may be repackaged for use by veterans.

SB 1224, signed into law today by Governor Corbett as Act 147 of 2014, allows veterans living in those facilities to purchase their medications at a discounted rate through the VA, while repackaging medications into smaller quantities also reduces the chance of medication errors.

“This bill is a win-win for veterans, and we are deeply grateful to the House and Senate for its swift passage and Governor Corbett for signing this important legislation,” said Dr. Stuart H. Shapiro, M.D., PHCA/CALM President and CEO. “We thank Senator Pat Vance for introducing and pushing this legislation almost immediately after we brought it to her attention. Her leadership, along with that of House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, helped this bill reached the finish line and is of great importance to Pennsylvania’s veterans residing in personal care homes and assisted living residences.”

As it stands now, qualifying veterans can get their medications through the VA at a discounted rate. However, these medications are almost always provided in large quantities, as many as 90 pills or more, similar to mail order. Pharmacies are then able to repackage medication received from the VA into bubble packs (usually 30 pills per pack) for veterans who reside in a “long-term care nursing facility,” according to the Military and Veterans Code.

However, because the code refers specifically to a “long-term care nursing facility,” otherwise referred to as nursing homes, pharmacies could not repackage medications for use by veterans who reside in personal care homes and assisted living residences until this Act was passed.

The Act allows pharmacies to repackage medications for veterans residing in personal care homes and assisted living residences as well. It’s an important change because repackaged bubble packs are preferred as a way to keep medication errors at a minimum and assist caregivers in the organization and management of resident medications. Without this change in the law, personal care homes and assisted living residences must dispense veterans’ medications via the bottles received from the VA, which can increase the chances of medication errors. Additionally, some vets pay a higher price for medications because if they reside in a facility that requires bubble packs for medication, they may not be able to purchase their medication through the VA. The Act takes effect in 60 days.

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