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Pharmacists React to Changes in Medicaid Payments

&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Pharmacists across the state say changes in the way the state handles pharmacy services could threaten their businesses... as well as *thousands* of jobs.<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The state plans to move to managed care for pharmacy services starting March 1st....<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And because of that move... pharmacists will receive *less* money for each Medicaid prescription they fill.<br>
    Pharmacists across the state say changes in the way the state handles pharmacy services could threaten their businesses... as well as *thousands* of jobs.
    The state plans to move to managed care for pharmacy services starting March 1st....
    And because of that move... pharmacists will receive *less* money for each Medicaid prescription they fill.
   For those pharmacies whose customer base is made up of primarily Medicaid patients... It could mean the end of the line for their business.
   Park Plaza Pharmacy has been serving the Wichita Falls community for nearly 60 years.
    Now that the state of Texas is moving to managed care for pharmacy services... The pharmacy is expecting to see an 80- to- 90 percent hit on prescription reimbursements.
   Phyllis Hill
Manager, Park Plaza Pharmacy
"It's going to be devastating, it really is, to independent pharmacies.  We've worked for years to take care of these patients, and now they're asking us to do an impossible thing."
    That impossible thing is to share the money with the other players managed care will bring into the game.
   "Instead of going from our state to the pharmacy, now we get to add two more people in the mix in between us that have to get paid."
   So instead of reimbursements going straight to pharmacies... They'll have to go through two additional entities: Pharmacy benefits managers and insurance companies.
    So when the reimbursements funds *finally* funnel down to pharmacies... They'll receive about 10 dollars less per prescription than they currently receive...
    Which means changes could be on the way...
"It could mean laying off staff, it could be cutting down services such as delivery, it could be reducing hours of operation, and in the most severe circumstance, closing stores.  Either not being able to serve those Medicaid patients at all, or going out of business trying."    Preliminary estimates show this change could threaten about 13- hundred pharmacies... and 73- thousand jobs statewide.
    There are several pharmacy groups that continue to work with the state's health and human services commission to try to work out a program that won't make such a drastic cut to reimbursements...
    But again... that change is supposed to take effect March 1st.
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