Quality Assurance policy and procedure

Providence Medicare Advantage Plans is committed to keeping you safe and healthy. Providence has implemented programs to ensure safe and appropriate use of prescription medicines that are part of your Medicare Part D benefit. These programs will bring any potential risks or questions to your pharmacist’s attention and help your doctors and pharmacist communicate about your medication therapy, if needed.

Medication Quality Assurance Program

We conduct drug use reviews for our members to help make sure that they are getting safe and appropriate care. These reviews are especially important for members who have more than one provider who prescribes their drugs.

Our systems do an automated review each time you fill a prescription. We also review our records on a regular basis. During these reviews, we look for potential problems such as:

  • Possible medication errors
  • Drugs that may not be necessary because you are taking another drug to treat the same medical condition
  • Drugs that may not be safe or appropriate because of your age or gender
  • Certain combinations of drugs that could harm you if taken at the same time
  • Prescriptions written for drugs that have ingredients you are allergic to
  • Possible errors in the amount (dosage) of a drug you are taking
  • Unsafe amounts of opioid pain medications

If we see a possible problem in your use of medications, we will work with your provider to correct the problem.

Utilization Management: Why do some drugs have restrictions?

For certain prescription drugs, special rules restrict how and when the plan covers them. A team of doctors and pharmacists developed these rules to help our members use drugs in the most effective ways. These special rules also help control overall drug costs, which keeps your drug coverage more affordable.

In general, our rules encourage you to get a drug that works for your medical condition and is safe and effective. Whenever a safe, lower-cost drug will work just as well medically as a higher cost drug, the plan’s rules are designed to encourage you and your provider to use that lower-cost option. We also need to comply with Medicare’s rules and regulations for drug coverage and cost sharing.

If there is a restriction for your drug, it usually means that you or your provider will have to take extra steps in order for us to cover the drug. If you want the restriction waived, you will need to use the coverage decision process and ask us to make an exception. We may or may not agree to waive the restriction for you. (See Chapter 9, Section 6.2 for information about asking for exceptions.)

Please note that sometimes a drug may appear more than once in our drug list. This is because different restrictions or cost sharing may apply based on factors such as the strength, amount, or form of the drug prescribed by your health care provider (for instance, 10 mg versus 100 mg; one per day versus two per day; tablet versus liquid).

  • Restricting brand name drugs when a generic version is available
    A generic drug works the same as a brand name drug and usually costs less. When a generic version of a brand name drug is available, our network pharmacies will provide you the generic version. We usually will not cover the brand name drug when a generic version is available. However, if your provider has told us the medical reason that neither the generic drug nor other covered drugs that treat the same condition will work for you, then we will cover the brand name drug. (Your share of the cost may be greater for the brand name drug than for the generic drug.)
  • Getting plan approval in advance
    For certain drugs, you or your provider need to get approval from the plan before the drug is covered. This is called “prior authorization.” Sometimes the requirement for getting approval in advance helps guide appropriate use of certain drugs. If you do not get this approval, your drug might not be covered by the plan.
  • Trying a different drug first
    This requirement encourages you to try less costly but just as effective drugs before the plan covers another drug. For example, if Drug A and Drug B treat the same medical condition, the plan may require you to try Drug A first. If Drug A does not work for you, the plan will then cover Drug B. This requirement to try a different drug first is called “step therapy.”
  • Quantity limits
    For certain drugs, we limit the amount of the drug that you can have by limiting how much of a drug you can get each time you fill your prescription. For example, if it is normally considered safe to take only one pill per day for a certain drug, we may limit coverage for your prescription to no more than one pill per day.

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