Florida Pharmacies Fighting Back

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

Tallahassee, Florida- August 2, 2012

From pills to liquids, inhalers to rubs, you'll find all your prescription needs right here at your neighborhood pharmacy.

But for a quarter-million Florida medicaid patients, it's no longer an option.

Medicaid's being privatized, farmed out to private insurance companies and HMOs that are now requiring patients to get their drugs through the mail.

Like a lot of folks, Rita Marshall is outraged, worried a mail-order company a thousand miles away may not pick up on a potentially fatal drug interaction.

"Those are Kodak memories, you know, that you felt that 'we've been to this pharmacy five generations' or 'we're just the new kid on the block', and we don't need no new kid on the block. We need to deal with the familiar faces and the familiar service that we've been used to getting in the long run!" said Marshall.

The mail-order mandate could also lead to a life-or-death challenge for Florida's independent pharmacies.

Many of them rely on local business to get by, and without it, they may well go out of business; and that could pose a quandary for state leaders. Leaders who have made growing Florida businesses a top priority.

They're now being sued by the Florida pharmacy association for turning their back on that pledge and making the mailbox a patient's only way to get the drugs they need.

But, the GOP lawmakers behind medicaid privatization say with money tight, it's all about making tough choices.

Rep. Jimmie Smith/(R) Inverness]]@ 1:15
"If we don't fix this system right now, the only answer we have is to amputate it, and we cannot go down that road - we need this system," said republican Representative Jimmie Smith.

The state agency that runs Florida's medicaid program is on the receiving end of that lawsuit.

It was filed in Tallahassee just last week.

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