PUTT’s Letter in the Tampa Bay Times

Don’t shut out local pharmacists

A crisis is just around the corner for Florida’s independent pharmacists and their customers. As of July 9, many independent pharmacists will no longer be allowed to serve Medicaid and Florida Healthy Kids members, which constitute a large portion of independent pharmacists’ customers.

Amerigroup, the managed care organization that manages Florida’s Medicaid program, announced in May that independent pharmacies could only continue serving Medicaid patients for the next two months. After that, pharmacists were told to “help members transfer existing prescriptions to a participating pharmacy upon their request.”

By forcefully transitioning Medicaid patients out of independent pharmacies’ care, Amerigroup and its partner pharmacy benefits manager, CVS Caremark, are creating a system that hurts all Floridians and benefits only themselves. Medicaid patients will no longer have the freedom to choose their pharmacy; pharmacists whose businesses rely on Medicaid recipients are on the rocks; and pharmacy customers who depend on rural, independent pharmacies for access to care will have to find another way to get their medications.

Even independent pharmacies willing to accept the terms of Amerigroup’s Medicaid reimbursement rates are shut out of the deal. So instead of keeping taxpayer dollars at small businesses in Florida, the program needlessly ships money out of the state to Amerigroup and CVS Caremark, each Fortune 500 companies. Florida’s economy, independent pharmacies and pharmacy customers would all be better served by preserving access to independent pharmacies and keeping Florida’s money in Florida.   Read More…