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Janet Cruz visits Hillsborough senior center to celebrate signing of medical synchronization bill

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Florida House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz visited the Town & Country Senior Center in Northwestern Hillsborough County on Friday to celebrate passage of a health care bill she sponsored in the House that will soon become law.

Governor Rick Scott recently signed the Senate version of her bill (SB 800). It prohibits health insurers from denying patients the ability to receive a partial refill of a prescription if they choose to enroll in a medication synchronization program through their pharmacy.

Medication synchronization, or medsync, empowers pharmacists to write “short fill” or “long fill” prescriptions so they all come due on a single date. While this practice is more convenient for patients and ensures they don’t miss critical doses of their medication, it creates a potential problem for pharmacists because health insurance companies typically do not reimburse them for partial prescriptions.

“As I travel through the district and I met with people from all walks of life, one of the issues they brought up was how hard it was to continuously go to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions,” Cruz told the seniors who gathered to listen to her.

The Tampa Democrat said the issue was personal for her, as she says that there are times when she’s not in town and can’t give her mother a ride to the pharmacy.

“She would have to fold up her walker, put it in an Uber, get out at the pharmacy and pick up her meds, and it’s just too much,” she said.

Similar legislation has passed in recent years in Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Washington, Missouri and other places, and Cruz says that those states have all seen “medication adherence” rates rise because of the convenience factor imbedded in the bill.

“So when we make it easier for people to get all of their prescriptions, they do a better job of taking their prescriptions and staying on their prescriptions rather than running out on them and taking the time to go to the pharmacy,” she told the audience.

Cruz said she worked with officials from the insurance companies, HMO’s and pharmacies to ensure that they all were in agreement on how the legislation would be drafted. “

The big concern for the pharmacies was the dispensing fee and making sure that they would be paid during the synchronization process, and I think that was the same concern of the insurers,” she said.

Cruz’ announcement came in Town N’ Country, which is also part of District 1 on the Hillsborough County Commission, a seat where she said Friday she is likely to file to run “in the near future.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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