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Pharmacies continue fight for inclusion in Medicaid managed care

Pharmacy Choice and Access Now (PCAN), a nationwide coalition of consumers, local businesses and pharmacists, on Monday hosted a news conference at a Tallahassee-based drug store to advocate for including local pharmacies in Florida's Medicaid managed program.

Among other things, PCAN wants to make sure Medicaid patients can have prescriptions filled at the pharmacy of their choice by ending mandatory mail ordering of prescriptions for Medicaid patients and state employees.

"The business that my family has owned for more than five decades is in serious danger of having to shut our doors due to new laws that do nothing to save costs in Medicaid and needlessly ship jobs to out-of-state mail order companies," said Alexis McMillan, pharmacist at Economy Drug Store in Tallahassee, in a prepared statement. "I urge AHCA to consider the value of Florida’s small businesses and to allow state employees and Medicaid patients the continued freedom to receive care from the pharmacists they have come to know and trust for their care."

Michael Jackson, executive vice president of the Florida Pharmacy Asssociation, said the proposal "arbitrarily prevents qualified providers from serving a growing population of patients.  There is absolutely no reason to disallow willing qualified and trusted community-based pharmacy providers who agree to the contract terms from serving Medicaid patients." 

Update: Rep. Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, fought back on Monday against a pharmacy group raising concerns about Medicaid managed care plans using mail-order pharmacy businesses, accusing the group of organzining a "press stunt."

"We addressed these concerns by prohibiting the exclusive use of mail-order pharmacies in the law," Schenck said in a prepared statement. "The bill speaks for itself. People need to read the bill before planning press stunts designed to spread fear, misinformation and lies.”