Texas pharmacists say the state’s move to save money will put 1,300 drug stores in jeopardy of going out of business.
Legislators could move towards a plan that would reduce Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to pharmacists for dispensing prescriptions. The Texas Pharmacy Council estimates it will amount to an 80 percent reduction in the fees.
Louis Hall owns a Fort Worth pharmacy and said the move will be "devastating for the pharmacies."
He opened his drug store in 1974 and says they have gone through cuts before, but this one would be the worst. They fill about 400 prescriptions per day at his store along Pennsylvania Avenue. Medicaid patients account for one-third of his business.
“And we deliver to them at no charge on Medicaid," Hall said. "There’s no way I could ever be able to do that.”
At least, not with an 80 percent reduction in reimbursement fees, Hall said. Tears welled up in his eyes as he pondered the thought of having to tell long-time patients he can no longer deliver drugs for free.
The State of Texas is looking for ways to save money. One strategy is reducing the fees paid for dispensing prescriptions.
"By administering Medicaid drug benefits more like those in Medicare and the private sector, Texas will save hundreds of millions without cutting benefits to those in need," said Charles Cote with the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association. "Currently, the program uses fewer generic drugs and pays drugstores more than triple the fees that Medicare or private insurers pay."
Hall and other pharmacists maintain that by cutting reimbursement rates, they'll be driven out of business.
The changes could take effect in March.