Bartell to cease filling Medicaid prescriptions at 15 locations
SEATTLE Regional pharmacy chain Bartell Drugs announced that it will stop filling Medicaid prescriptions at 15 of its 57 stores, citing recent reductions in compensation from the state to pharmacies filling DSHS/Medicaid prescriptions.
The move is effective Feb. 1, 2010. Of those stores that will stop filling Medicaid prescriptions, 12 are located in King County and three are in Snohomish County.
“We want to fill prescriptions. Bartell Drugs is here to serve our customers — to fill their prescriptions and meet their healthcare needs, and we feel we do a good job offering outstanding patient care. Accordingly, this is a painful decision and one we do not take lightly. We want to be clear that the decision has nothing to do with our DSHS customers, but only with the State,” stated George Bartell, chairman and CEO of the 119-year-old, family-owned chain. “We look forward to serving these customers any other way we can.”
On Sept. 26, 2009, the industry pricing standard was reduced as a result of a court decision in Massachusetts. Bartell stated that, unlike most other insurance providers, including other states, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has made no effort to offset this significant reduction, resulting in sizeable reductions in payments to pharmacies.
He added that lengthy discussions between pharmacy industry leaders and DSHS, along with subsequent legal actions, have failed to resolve the issue thus far. The intent is to return to the established level of compensation prior to the Sept. 26, 2009, court action.
“I can’t speak for other pharmacies across the state, but we hope that the state will reconsider [its] reimbursement and meet its responsibility to provide access to all Medicaid recipients. Our sincere hope is that this issue will be resolved so we do not need to expand our exclusion of DSHS prescription services to additional locations,” Bartell stated.
Company officials are urging concerned customers to contact the Governor’s office at (360) 902-4111, or local state legislators through the legislative hotline at (800) 562-6000.
Bartell Drugs stores impacted in King County include Ballard, Roosevelt, University Village, Magnolia, Admiral Way (West Seattle), Bellevue Village, Bridle Trails and Houghton (both in Kirkland), Inglewood, Bella Bottega and Redmond Town Center (both in Redmond) and Sammamish Plateau. Snohomishm County locations include Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Seattle Hill Road.
Cardinal Health selected as exclusive pharmaceutical distribution partner for AAP
DUBLIN, Ohio Cardinal Health has been selected to be the exclusive pharmaceutical distributor for American Associated Pharmacies’ nearly 2,000 independent pharmacy members nationwide.
The American Associated Pharmacies is the parent company of Associated Pharmacies Inc. and United Drugs.
Cardinal Health previously had separate, exclusive distribution agreements with API and United Drugs, prior to their Sept. 1, 2009 merger. The new, multi-year agreement, effective last week, solidifies Cardinal Health as the primary pharmaceutical distributor for the combined entity’s nationwide pharmacy members. The new contract signifies a long-term partnership between Cardinal Health and AAP and better positions both companies to help independent retail pharmacies improve cost-effectiveness and efficiency.
“Since API and United Drugs joined together in September of this year, we have been very active establishing our new parent company, AAP, while also focusing on ways to strengthen our well-established relationships with Cardinal Health,” said Jon Copeland, CEO of AAP. “Throughout the entire process, we’ve had only one goal: The greater success of our members. Now, with AAP’s new agreement with Cardinal Health, we’ve made a giant step toward achieving that goal.”
As part of the agreement, AAP members will have access to an extensive portfolio of branded and generic pharmaceuticals from Cardinal Health. They will also have access to a broad array of Cardinal Health solutions and services designed to help independent pharmacies improve profitability and efficiency. AAP members will also have access to select Cardinal Health services and solutions, including customized reimbursement consulting services, reconciliation services that ensure payors pay reimbursements in full and tools that help retailers market and increase non-prescription sales to drive diversified revenue growth.
“Cardinal Health, Associated Pharmacies, Inc. and United Drugs share a passionate commitment to supporting the growth of independent pharmacies,” said Mike Kaufmann, CEO of Cardinal Health’s pharmaceutical segment. “Through Cardinal Health’s strong generics program and our powerful, customized portfolio of supply chain, operational and financial performance solutions, we’ll work hand-in-hand with AAP to help their nearly 2,000 independent pharmacy members improve cost effectiveness and efficiency so they can focus on what they do best – care for patients.”
Independent pharmacy lobbyists renew call for health-reform relief
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Weighing once again into the health-reform fray on Capitol Hill, the National Community Pharmacists Association Wednesday reiterated a long-standing plea to Congress for relief as the U.S. Senate and House work to craft a compromise on the health-reform bill to send to the White House.
The appeal came in a letter, sent by NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Among NCPA’s top priorities: a reasonable minimum payment system for Medicaid prescriptions, new curbs on pharmacy benefit managers and a pass on new Medicare restrictions governing the sale of durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies.
The independent pharmacy lobby is asking the House and Senate leadership to include those elements in a final version of health-reform legislation. Although Congress has yet to reconvene later this month, Pelosi and Reid have maintained a high-profile effort to reconcile the reform bills passed late last year by both houses of Congress.
“Community pharmacists are ready and willing to help improve health outcomes and lower costs,” said Roberts. “We greatly appreciate the bipartisan backing in both chambers for reforms that support community pharmacists.
“The recommendations we present here will make a good thing even better for patients,” he asserted in his appeal to both leaders. “We will continue working with Congress in hopes of enacting these proposals.”
Among NCPA’s specific requests:
- A reform of Medicaid’s Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) reimbursement system for generic drugs, and the adoption by Medicaid of the Senate’s proposal for a federal upper limit of no less than 175% of the weighted average AMP. “Anything less could force many independent community pharmacies, which care for an extraordinarily high number of Medicaid patients, out of the program,” noted the group.
- The adoption of both House-passed transparency provisions for pharmacy benefit managers operating in the proposed health insurance exchange, and Senate language extending the reporting requirements to Medicare Part D drug plans;
- Inclusion of the Senate’s proposal to exempt retail pharmacies from Medicare’s “burdensome, duplicative accreditation requirements” for the sale of durable medical equipment and supplies, including diabetes testing kits.
Roberts also urged Congress to “support all House- and Senate-passed provisions expanding the community pharmacist’s ability to provide medication therapy management services,” according to today’s letter. Pharmacist-administered MTM, he noted, would help “maximize the patient’s adherence and therapeutic benefit while lowering the cost of inappropriate prescription drug use — estimated at $290 billion annually.”