Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Politics... |

The ongoing dispute over Medicaid reimbursements in the state of Washington has led Walgreens drugstores to stop taking new Medicaid patients as of April 16th.  The company claims it’s losing money filling Medicaid prescriptions.   They will continue providing drugs for their current Medicaid patients.  In a statement, the company cited the "continued reduction in reimbursement" as the reason for the decision.  Washington state had been reimbursing pharmacies on 86% of the cost of the drugs, but in July that percentage was lowered to 84%.  That move saved the state about $10M, but took money away from pharmacies at the same time.  Then in September, a group of pharmacies sued the state (lawsuit pending) claiming Washington was not keeping within the federal law in establishing a reimbursement rate.  This is going to start a domino effect as other pharmacies will follow suit with ObamaCare on the horizon.  In an effort to lower health care costs, our government will strong-arm pharmacies into accepting new Medicaid patients and if not, they will probably impose high fees if they don’t comply, which will force a lot of pharmacies out of business.


This is nothing new, though.  It was happening in Delaware last June, but the Obama administration swept it under the rug and didn’t do anything to prevent it from rippling through the states, as it’s apparently doing now.  Also, last spring and summer, Obama #1 and Obama#2 were partying like crazy at the White House, too distracted to deal with more crucial issues.  Remember, their world revolves around them and nobody else.


In June of 2009, there was a protest against Delaware’s plan of cutting reimbursements for drugs when Walgreens, the biggest pharmacy chain in the state, announced that effective July 6, 2009, it would stop filling Medicaid prescriptions for the state. Walgreens said that effective July 6th, the company will no longer fill Medicaid prescriptions in all 66 of its Happy Harry’s stores, which was purchased by the drugstore chain in 2006 that serve the residents in Delaware.  The move counteracted the April decision by state officials, pertaining to a rollback of the reimbursement rate for branded prescriptions to 84% of average wholesale price from the current 86% of average wholesale price.


Commenting on Walgreens "turning its back" on Delaware’s 157,000 residents on Medicare, Rita Landgraf, the state’s Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health and Social Services, said that the government decision to slash reimbursement were planned to make up some part of its $800M budget.  Meanwhile, Kermit Crawford, Walgreen’s Senior VP of Pharmacy, said that the companyalong with the National Association of Chain Drug Storeshad suggested alternatives to the state for filling its Medicaid budget gap.  Regarding Walgreens’ decision to withdraw, Crawford said, "Quite simply, we can’t continue to participate in a program that, in some cases, pays us less than our cost to fill these prescriptions."  They’re in business to make money as any business is, and I can understand their stance on this issue.  Maybe the real criminals here are the pharmaceutical companies who increase the prices of drugs at an alarming rate, but the government (also criminals here) are in bed with the pharmaceutical companies because of much-needed campaign donations so don’t expect the government to be strong-arming the pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices any time soon which would help dramatically.  If you want to get mad at someone, direct that anger to where it should be—pharmaceutical companies.  They are like the government’s feeding tube, and the government will protect them at all costs, even though a lot of the drugs they manufacture (and the government approves) are hurting people, and sometimes killing them.  It’s all about power; it’s all about money.


If you think this is bad, wait until you see what happens when ObamaCare gets rammed down our throats and there are up to 20-30 million more people who are demanding they get their health care.  Doctors will be over-burdened and will stop accepting new patients, Medicaid and otherwise.  Then you’ll have many doctors closing their practices because of all the government regulations, then we’ll be dealing with doctor shortages.


For an administration that consistently says they want to help small businesses, they are doing everything they can to make them fall out of existence.  Every day we see the "Hopeless Change" that Obama has wrought in this country.  It surprises the heck out of me that many people still support that parasite…


Walgreens: no new Medicaid patients as of April 16
By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times staff reporter

Effective April 16, Walgreens drugstores across the state won’t take any new Medicaid patients, saying that filling their prescriptions is a money-losing proposition — the latest development in an ongoing dispute over Medicaid reimbursement.

The company, which operates 121 stores in the state, will continue filling Medicaid prescriptions for current patients.

In a news release, Walgreens said its decision to not take new Medicaid patients stemmed from a "continued reduction in reimbursement" under the state’s Medicaid program, which reimburses it at less than the break-even point for 95 percent of brand-name medications dispensed to Medicaid patents.

Walgreens follows Bartell Drugs, which stopped taking new Medicaid patients last month at all 57 of its stores in Washington, though it still fills Medicaid prescriptions for existing customers at all but 15 of those stores.

Doug Porter, the state’s director of Medicaid, said Medicaid recipients should be able to readily find another pharmacy because "we have many more pharmacy providers in our network than we need" for the state’s 1 million Medicaid clients.

He said those who can’t can contact the state’s Medical Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-800-562-3022 for help in locating one.

Along with Walgreens and Bartell, the Ritzville Drug Company in Adams County announced in November that it would stop participating in Medicaid.

Fred Meyer and Safeway said their pharmacies would continue to serve existing Medicaid patients and to take new ones, though both expressed concern that the reimbursement rate is too low for pharmacies to make a profit.

The amount private insurers and Medicaid pay pharmacies for prescriptions isn’t the actual cost of those drugs but rather is based on what’s called the drug’s estimated average wholesale price. But that figure is more like the sticker price on a car than its actual wholesale cost.

Washington was reimbursing pharmacies 86 percent of a drug’s average wholesale price until July, when it began paying them just 84 percent. While pharmacies weren’t happy about the reimbursement reduction, the Department of Social and Health Services said that move was expected to save the state about $10 million.

Then in September came another blow. The average wholesale price is calculated by a private company, which was accused in a Massachusetts lawsuit of fraudulently inflating its figures. The company did not admit wrongdoing but agreed in a court settlement to ratchet its figures down by about 4 percent.

That agreement took effect in September — and prompted a lawsuit by a group of pharmacies and trade associations that said Washington state didn’t follow federal law in setting its reimbursement rate, and that that rate is too low. The lawsuit is pending.

"Washington state Medicaid is now reimbursing pharmacies less than their cost of participation," said Jeff Rochon, CEO of the Washington State Pharmacy Association.

Pharmacies that continue to fill Medicaid prescriptions at the current state reimbursement rate are "at risk of putting themselves out of business altogether," he said.

Information from Seattle Times archives was used in this report.



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Tom, don\’t you think that the high rate of malpractice insurance has a lot to do with doctors\’ rates? I\’ve learned through experience that you get what you pay for when it comes to medical care. Also, there\’s simply too much bureaucracy when it comes to government-subsidized programs. There are many free clinics and free health care (via the ER) for people who don\’t have health insurance, but the media doesn\’t talk about it and neither will Obama because it goes against what he\’s trying to push upon us. Maybe I\’ll touch on that subject in a future post…


Lots of Doctorts don\’t take Medicaid patients. And if it wasn\’t politically incorrect, lots of Doctors wouldn\’t take Medicare either as reimbursement rates are way below that commanded by your plumber.


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