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SXC Health Solutions earns specialty Rx accreditation from URAC

BY Allison Cerra

LISLE, Ill. — SXC Health Solutions has been awarded specialty pharmacy accreditation from URAC.

URAC said that SXC "demonstrated a commitment to quality health care" by applying for and receiving specialty pharmacy accreditation.

"SXC’s robust specialty sector is a powerful contender in the PBM industry," SXC chairman and CEO Mark Thierer said. "Our URAC accreditation is recognition of the quality and broad scope of our specialty pharmacy commitments. We look forward to continuing to provide unbeatable service and committed support to our clients."


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Texas indies decry shift to Medicaid managed care

BY Jim Frederick

If you’re an independent pharmacist trying to make ends meet in the state of Texas, good luck. A shift in the way the Lone Star State pays for Medicaid — as enacted by Texas legislature — is hammering many pharmacies, according to a June 14 report from the Texas Tribune, as reported in the New York Times. And once again, it’s the independents that are feeling the hammer strikes hardest.

The source of their pain was a move three months ago by state government to shift prescription drug coverage for Medicaid patients into a managed care model. Instead of receiving drug benefits directly from the state’s Medicaid program, lower-income beneficiaries are now covered by 1-of-7 pharmacy benefit managers handling Medicaid recipients’ claims, according to the Times (among the PBMs administering those claims is CVS Caremark).

State lawmakers predict the shift of Medicaid pharmacy benefits into managed care will save Texas $100 million in 2012-2013. But the transition to managed care has been a “bumpy” one, the news service reported last week, "with numerous computer errors and miscommunications between the State Health and Human Services Commission, pharmacists and the pharmacy benefit managers."

Since then, the snags that accompanied the shift to the new PBM model seem to have been largely untangled, according to the report. But the longer-term impact on hard-hit pharmacy owners remains.

Why? Pharmacies that serve Texas Medicaid recipients are now receiving "drastically reduced reimbursement rates set by the managed care plans," the Times reported, with average Medicaid dispensing fees dropping from $7.13 to $1.53 under the new plan. With some rural community indies depending on Medicaid for a huge chunk of their prescription business, the predictable result is that mom-and-pop pharmacies are, once again, the canaries in the coal mine.

Some of the canaries already have expired, according to the report. One pharmacy owner in Mission, Texas, told a Texas Tribune reporter he knows of 26 indies that "have closed or been sold to retail chains since the managed care changes."

Independent pharmacy advocates in the state argue that lawmakers could have achieved the desired savings through other means, such as encouraging more generic drug substitutions. But for some owner-operators, the damage appears to already have been done.

If you’re one of them, or if you represent the PBM industry in Texas and want to talk about why the shift to managed care is a positive for the state, please share your thoughts with us. We’d like to hear from both sides.

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Walgreens reaffirms support for National Guard, military veterans

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens last week reaffirmed its support for National Guard and reserve members and their families with the signing of a statement of support by Walgreens chief human resources officer Kathleen Wilson-Thompson.

According to the drug store operator, Walgreens has a comprehensive strategy in place to hire and transition military talent. In addition to working with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the company is working with numerous veteran service organizations to raise awareness and support for military members, their spouses and qualified veterans. As part of its outreach strategy, Walgreens also announced a new veteran outreach email box available at vetoutreach@walgreens.com that will serve as a resource to help link potential Walgreens applicants with the company’s military and disability outreach community recruiter.

"We’re proud to be a part of an organization designed to help American employers support the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve," Wilson-Thompson said. "Transitioning to civilian life is challenging for many returning service members, and it is our hope that we can help provide insight and assistance to help veterans obtain civilian employment."

Walgreens has a long history of supporting American troops and veterans, from providing a store in the Pentagon beginning in the 1940s, to decades of donation and product drives, and extending company benefits to employees called to active service. Under the Walgreens military leave policy, employees called to active service receive their full salary, less military pay, for 42 months from the last day worked. In addition, they have the option of continuing medical, prescription and dental coverage at active employee rates.

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