Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pharmacists Protest against Health Plan Drug Limits

Pharmacists have requested Mississippi lawmakers to put an end to limits where people covered by certain insurance plans can get prescriptions filled. But it is easier said than done, because lobbyists for some pharmacy benefit managers have pointed out that the state can’t regulate certain insurance plans legally as they come under federal law.

The two sides came face to face on Tuesday in a House Insurance Committee hearing called by Chairman Gary Chism. Insurers and independent pharmacists are not on the same page with The Columbus Republican, which has proposed that local pharmacies should be allowed to match mail-order discounts given by benefit managers.

Pharmacists are against the proposal as too many similar plans are forcibly enabling customers to make use of certain mail order and retail pharmacies or else pay more. Their point is if the stores can comply with the terms of the drug plan, then they should be allowed to participate as well, as voiced by Waymon Tigrett, a pharmacist who sits on the state board and owns Brandon Discount Drugs.

It is not certain if the proposal will pass muster because large pharmacy chains and drug plans have claimed that 1996 law meant for supporting independent drug stores in adequate. If there are any violations, pharmacists should take it up with the Insurance Department.

Executive Director of the Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association, Robert Dozier commented that the board might be able to exercise more authority when it comes to drug plans, due to a 2011 law that allows the board to regulate benefit managers. Currently, Mississippi is the only state that has this law.

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