N.Y. pharmacists voice concern over Medicaid change

August 20, 2009

The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York is fighting mad over the state's plan to contract with mail-order pharmacies to deliver high-cost medications to Medicaid customers.

The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York is fighting mad over the state’s plan to contract with mail-order pharmacies to deliver high-cost medications to Medicaid customers. According to a notice on the society’s Web site posted in June, orders for specialty medications should not be farmed out beyond state borders.

"My main concern is this move would be removing the patients' access to their local pharmacy where they get their complete and comprehensive needs and services met by their pharmacist," said Joseph P. Navarra, RPh, president-elect of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY) in a statement on the society’s Web site.

"The patients' drug therapy management will be split between multiple providers, therefore reducing positive outcomes, increasing side effects and adverse reactions, reducing patient safety and increasing the overall costs to the Medicaid system."

The society also has support from the National Federation of Independent Business. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is expected to publish a request for proposals from vendors. The specialty drug program targets about 100 drugs for illnesses such as hepatitis C, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. State health officials told news outlets that they have heard the pharmacists' complaints and have redesigned the plan to allow local specialty pharmacies to bid for the work.

"I can't promise that every pharmacy will be able to participate (under the new plan), because that likely isn't going to be the case, but more will be able to participate," Greg Allen, director of the Division of Financial Planning and Policy in the DOH's Office of Health Insurance Programs, told the news Web site timesunion.com.

New York Gov. David Paterson said he won't sign any legislation that sends business out of state. “Well, we can only hope his agency heads heed that directive even if legislation is not required,” PSSNY said.