December 1, 2011
Mail-Order Pharmacies Sharpen Argument Against Drug Bill
A group of businesses and mail-order pharmacies is renewing its call today for the veto of a controversial bill that would prohibit insurers from requiring mail-order prescriptions.
The bill, delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office Wednesday, is backed by the bricks-and-mortar pharmacies, who argue that it controls overall health-care costs, including the Medicaid burden and increases consumer choice.
Insurance companies have increasingly turned to mail-order companies as the sole source of prescription drugs for those with employer-based health insurance. The mail-order industry has recruited a variety of groups, including the US Postal Workers Union and the state Business Council to oppose the measure.
From the campaign’s email sent this morning:
With the delivery of Assembly bill A5502b to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s desk yesterday, several business groups and health providers have called for the legislation to be vetoed because it’s bad for business and bad for New Yorkers. The bill would prohibit discounts for mail order prescriptions, and would lead to a 10 percent increase in the cost of prescription drugs in New York State – a burden that would be carried by small businesses that provide health coverage, and to individuals who receive it.
The Federal Trade Commission has weighed in, calling the measure problematic.
With news that the bill had been finally delivered (there was some confusion on whether the governor received it back in September) the opposition has updated its website and renewed its call for letter-writing campaign.
The measure is one of the few controversial bills passed in the end-of-session flurry back in June that Cuomo is yet to take action on.
Cuomo’s office has not given any indication on how he’ll act.
Update: Organizations backing the bill responded this afternoon, noting that it has support from the New York State Retail Council and the AARP among them.
A group that represents immigrant communities, Make the Road, wrote to the governor that having a neighborhood pharmacist who speaks their language is especially important.
“The consequences of misunderstanding prescription labels can be dire and costly,” they wrote. “Indeed, patient non-adherence with prescription instructions due to low levels of health literacy and other factors is responsible for 22% of all hospitalizations nation-wide. . . . We believe that people should have a choice on where to purchase their prescription drugs, particularly those persons who benefit most from interaction with a pharmacist.”
The Retail Council in its memo of support: “[R]ather than ‘outsourcing’ retail purchases to mail order houses located outside of New York State, the measure helps keep jobs in local communities, where local pharmacists are available to counsel patients and provide localized service,” the Retail Council wrote in a memo to legislators supporting the bill.”
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