Pharmacist and patient  Budget cuts in Washington state to its Medicaid programs have created a “perilous situation” for retail pharmacies and their patients, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores warned on Wednesday, and could “pose danger as a precedent for other states across the nation as well,” according to the group.

NACDS is calling the budget-cutting directive by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire a “public health and safety threat.” In response, the chain pharmacy group has mobilized a coordinated effort among NACDS members, state association partners and other allies to block the cuts.
The source of the alarm: an across-the-board order from Gregoire to all agencies in the state to cut 6.3% from their budgets in order to deal with Washington’s fiscal crisis. The cuts are among a list of fiscal hits to the state’s Medicaid program, run by the Health Recovery Services Administration, and two of them will “directly impact community pharmacies,” according to NACDS.

The cuts will be two-phased. Beginning Jan. 1, 2011, all seniors on the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage plan “will have to either pay their own co-payments directly to the pharmacy, or the pharmacy will be legally able to deny them prescription drugs and services,” noted NACDS. Washington budget planners estimated the action will save the state $3.2 million.

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