June 18, 2014
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PHCA/CALM Commends House Veterans Affairs Committee for Passing Bill That Could Reduce Medication Errors, Expenses for Veterans

Measure that would allow veterans in personal care homes, assisted living residences to use repackaged medications purchased through the VA now heads to House floor for vote

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Health Care Association/Center for Assisted Living Management (PHCA/CALM) commended the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee for unanimously passing SB 1224, the VA Meds Repackaging Bill, that would add 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.

Repackaging medications into smaller quantities reduces the chance of medication errors, which is an added benefit on top of the discounted costs to veterans who purchase their medications through the VA.

“This measure gives veterans who are living in personal care homes and assisted living residences access to an important benefit that ensures their medications are safe and affordable,” said Dr. Stuart H. Shapiro, M.D., PHCA/CALM President and CEO. “I’m sure we all agree that our veterans deserve access to their benefits, regardless of the place they call home.”

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 can’t repackage medications for use by veterans who reside in personal care homes and assisted living residences.

SB 1224, introduced by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland) would change that, and 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.

SB 1224 would allow pharmacies in personal care homes and assisted living residences to re-package a veteran’s medications using the facility’s bubble packs or other packaging process, making it is easier to determine if someone has received their medication or not.

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