Pharmacy flap could limit patient access

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
August 18, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- More than 650,000 Floridians receiving Medicaid in Florida are being told that after November 1st, they can only use big chain pharmacies to have prescriptions filled. The policy of two providers now has locally owned drug stores crying foul.

Massey Drugs is a locally owned pharmacy in Quincy, Florida -- 25 miles west of the state capital. It’s a favorite for locals like retired mosquito control director, Michael Dunn.

“I’ve been going here just about all of my… just about since I was born just about, and I know the people that own it,” Dunn told us.

But locally owned stores across Florida are feeling pressure from the HMO’s managing the state's Medicaid program. Two companies, Molina and Humana, account for almost one in five Medicaid patients, and they are limiting prescription refills to big chains, not small stores like this one.

Michael Jackson is the CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association..

“You have a policy statement that says a patient can go over here, but can’t go over there,” says Jackson.

The Pharmacy Association is complaining loudly.

“They are being told that their taxes and fees you pay to help fund the Medicaid program to care for the indigent are good enough to take care of that program, but your services are not good enough, and we have a problem with that,” says the CEO.

Massey was founded 80 years ago by Terrance Massey’s grandfather.

“If one company gets by doing this, then other companies are going to follow suit. It’s just a matter of time before it's going to happen,” says Terrance.

State law allows managed plans to control their networks based on three factors: Price, quality and credentials. But pharmacists say they are only focusing on price.

The mom and pop’s say they can compete, but they’re not even being given the chance.

“You know, jobs will be lost, and we’re local,” says Massey.

Ultimately, lawmakers may have the final say if other HMO’s begin limiting competition.

The Florida Pharmacy Association met with the Agency for Health Care Administration. Previously, ACHA has responded to complaints by saying it can only take action if the HMO’s don’t have a pharmacy within 20 miles in a big city, or within 60 miles in a rural area.

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