If we prescribe it, will it come? Access to asthma equipment for Medicaid-insured children and adults in the Bronx, NY

Karen L. Warman, Amanda M. Jacobs, Ellen J. Silver

11 Scopus citations


Context: Asthma is a major cause of morbidity in the United States. Self-management of asthma requires access to appropriate equipment. Clinical experience in an inner-city practice suggests that families encounter difficulties in filling prescriptions for spacers/holding chambers, peak flow (PF) meters, and nebulizer machines. Objectives: To determine whether Bronx, NY, pharmacies (1) carry spacers/holding chambers, PF meters, and nebulizer machines; (2) accept Medicaid insurance for them; and (3) perceive barriers to reimbursement by Medicaid for this equipment. Design and Setting: Structured telephone survey of 100 Bronx pharmacies randomly selected from the 1999 telephone directory. Participants: Ninety-eight pharmacists and 2 pharmacy technicians in 100 different pharmacies. Main Outcome Measures: Pharmacists' reports of equipment availability, Medicaid acceptance, and reasons for not carrying equipment or accepting Medicaid. Results: Overall equipment availability was as follows: spacers (68%), spacers with masks (57%), adult PF meters (40%), child-range PF meters (24%), and nebulizer machines (56%). For Medicaid recipients, equipment was less available: spacers (45%), spacers with masks (35%), adult PF meters (27%), child-range PF meters (17%), and nebulizer machines (33%). Surveyed pharmacists reported misconceptions about requirements for Medicaid reimbursement, which included the following: that Durable Medical Equipment permits are required (64% spacers and 33% PF meters), that special forms are needed (17% PF meters), or that this equipment is not covered by Medicaid (14% spacers and 8% PF meters). Of the 100 surveyed pharmacists, 32 reported difficulties with Medicaid reimbursement and 41 had never tried to receive reimbursement. Conclusions: These results suggest that (1) access to spacers/holding chambers, PF meters, and nebulizers for Medicaid-insured families is severely limited in Bronx pharmacies; (2) misunderstandings regarding Medicaid reimbursement policies are common; and (3) interventions to increase the proportion of pharmacies that dispense equipment are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-677
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 22 2002


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