Starting next week, a uniform preferred drug list is required by the Department of Human Services.

This means more than 55,200 people who get care through Prepaid Medical Assistance Program and MinnesotaCare may have to change medications the next time they need a refill. The change also applies to people with Minnesota Senior Care Plus and Special Needs BasicCare who do not get their drugs from Medicare. In all, nearly 74,000 prescriptions will likely need to change over time.

Letters have been sent to people who may have to change drugs. The letter lists the current drugs the person takes that may need to change. It also suggests similar drugs that meet the state’s new rule. Medical supplies like diabetes test strips may also need to change. Treatment for people with diabetes, asthma and mental illness are three of the common illnesses where different drugs may be required.

People who received a letter should call their doctor or pharmacy. Some drugs can be changed with a phone call. Others require the patient to be seen by a doctor or someone else who provides their care. If an individual’s health does not allow him/her to switch to a drug on the new list, ask for approval to continue with the current medication.

Here are more details on what changes starting July 1, and what doesn’t change.

Here is a number to call at each of the Council’s health insurers if you have questions about your medications.

Here’s a Council letter to the Minnesota Department of Human Services highlighting problems that may come up as this change takes place.