Healthcare passed, where do we go from here?
In the March 10, 2010 words of Speaker Pelosi: “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it….” Unfortunately, no one knows what is in the just passed health care bill. Stay tuned, we will be discovering all sorts of things in the weeks and months to come.
Meanwhile, a decision by Walgreens slipped by largely unnoticed amidst the health care debate that dominated the news last week. Walgreens announced on March 17, 2010 that effective April 16, all Walgreens drugstores across the state of Washington would no longer take new Medicaid patients as customers. Their reasoning was that filling their prescriptions was a money-losing proposition. In short, Walgreens is being reimbursed at less than the break-even point for 95% of brand-name medications dispensed to Medicaid patients. Walgreens was not the first to make this decision.
In February, Bartell Drugs stopped taking new Medicaid patients at all 57 of its stores in Washington. In November, Ritzville Drug Company announced that it would stop participating in Medicaid. Jeff Rochon, CEO of the Washington State Pharmacy Association stated that “Washington state Medicaid is now reimbursing pharmacies less than their cost of participation.” That means that every Medicaid prescription filled by any pharmacy in Washington state loses money for the pharmacy that filled it.
Watch for this and other disturbing trends to spread to many other states and businesses in the near future.