Preserve Patient Access to Neighborhood Pharmacies
Studies and Data
Independent study highlights extent of PBMs' predatory practices in Florida's Medicaid program
This independent study from 3 Axis Advisors was developed using data straight from the state Agency for Health Care Administration. The analysis covers more than 350+ million prescription claims in Florida between 2012 and 2019, coupling that data with information from 100+ pharmacies. Some of the most shocking tactics the report uncovers involve the routine practice of PBMs and managed care organizations "steering" patients to affiliated pharmacies and then paying those pharmacies more than other ones for the same drug.
Legislative Leaders are Calling for Action
“Markets fail when markets get corrupted and that is what has happened here. When the middleman is allowed to own the end-retailer then the middlemen’s incentive to manage cost appropriately for the benefit of the chain is broken. And that is what has happened here.”
-- Rep. Randy Fine
“The power and control of PBMs has grown significantly over the last five to ten years. What we’re seeing is insurance companies owning PBMs and PBMs owning insurance companies. What is happening in the long run is that the price of prescriptions are going up.”
-- Sen. Gayle Harrell
“The practices PBMs use to drive up profits are complex, but the solution is simple: We need to increase access to care for all Floridians while ensuring that prescription drug savings make it to the patient and not the pockets of predatory PBMs.”
-- Rep. Jackie Toledo
When it comes to PBMs,
we all pay the price.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are middlemen who have strayed from their original purpose of negotiating savings for patients and now keep the profits for themselves, leaving the rest of Florida’s consumers to pay higher drug prices. PBMs use anti-competitive practices to short-circuit the free market and create health care monopolies.
These predatory tactics decrease access for patients, force neighborhood pharmacies to close down, and raise costs for everyone. We need legislation that will increase transparency and accountability on PBMs and ensure that patients are prioritized over profits.
Who do PBM predatory tactics hurt?
Forcing neighborhood pharmacies out of PBM health networks causes many patients to drive extra miles from their home to receive medications simply because their local pharmacy is not in their plan. This not only steers business away from neighborhood pharmacies, it severely restricts patients’ access to medications and drives up their costs.
Many neighborhood pharmacies diligently refill prescriptions only to be hit with reimbursements that are pennies on the dollar – with some even facing negative reimbursements or clawbacks – while PBMs continue to make record-breaking profits. No business can sustain operations under this model, and it is a clear manipulation of the system that promotes anti-competitive practices.
PBMs are overstepping their scope and making medical decisions best left to physicians and pharmacists – and their years of training. PBMs are motivated by profit, not by what is best for the patient, and many times PBMs require the use of drugs or specialty medications that are not the most beneficial for the patient.
The anti-competitive policies that PBMs push increase health care costs for everyone. PBMs don’t make or provide the drug – they don’t even touch the drug – yet they add costs to the overall health care system that must be absorbed by pharmacists, patients, and all Floridians.
How Can We Fix This?
This year, the Florida Legislature is considering legislation to address these challenges. SB 1444 and HB 961 implement transparency, accountability, and free-market policies that will help preserve patient access and keep drug prices affordable.
Here are some highlights of the legislation:
- Protect the free market by prohibiting anti-competitive policies that reduce patient choice and create health care monopolies
- Eliminate the practice of steering patients to PBM-owned pharmacies, especially when it involves taxpayer dollars
- Prohibit the predatory practices that PBMs use to squeeze independent pharmacies, including post-adjudication fees, spread pricing, and cumbersome audit practices
By supporting this legislation, we can bring about concrete change in the industry and put a stop to the abuses that leave Floridians suffering.
Tampa Bay News 10, July 9, 2020 So far, at least 8 independent Tampa Bay pharmacies have shut down because of challenges with Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM). As COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Florida, we’ve talked a lot about what doctors’ offices are doing, but what about pharmacies? Whether you realize it or not, your pharmacy options are becoming more limited but not because of COVID, but from something called Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs. It’s a big enough problem that one Tampa lawmaker is working to pass a bill to protect independent pharmacies and demand transparency. “Our motto here at Bill’s Prescription is to treat […]Read More
The Town Crier, February 28, 2020 On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the advocacy group Small Business Pharmacies Aligned for Reform (SPAR) hosted a press conference at My Community Pharmacy in Wellington regarding pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and their effect on pharmaceutical pricing. Speakers at the event outlined what they called “shady” practices in the PBM industry that aims to put independent pharmacies, such as My Community Pharmacy, out of business. The pharmacy is located at 2615 S. State Road 7 near Whole Food Market in Wellington, owned by Johnny Meier, one of the speakers at the event. In attendance with Meier were other local, independent pharmacists, customers […]Read More
83 Degrees, July 14, 2020 Tampa summers are typically the “slow season” for local pharmacies. But during COVID-19, nothing is typical nor should be taken for granted. The coronavirus pandemic coined the term “essential workers” and your local pharmacy is obviously essential, right? Pharmacies are always open, even in a public health crisis. Of course, they’re open, why wouldn’t they be open? Pharmacies are always there when people need them. But what happens if your local pharmacy can’t be there for you? Opinion column by Pharmacist Alex HerwigA recent survey among Florida independent pharmacies shed light on a little-known, but critical issue. Intended to examine […]Read More
Cision Newswire, June 15, 2020 Physicians and Patient Advocates Call for More State Disclosures The Alliance for Transparent and Affordable Prescriptions (ATAP) reacted today to a report issued by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) showing the financial activity of the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industry in the Lone Star State. Texas law requires that PBMs annually report to the Insurance Commissioner aggregate data on rebates. “The Texas rebate report is unambiguous. The PBM industry has been generating significant profits while patients struggle to afford the cost of prescription drugs,” stated ATAP’s President Dr. Robert Levin. “Since 2016, through a complex rebate and price concession, the PBM industry in Texas pocketed more […]Read More
NBC WPTV 5, February 13, 2020 A popular pharmacist is calling for prescription drug pricing reform in Florida after a newly released report shows small pharmacies are having a difficult time competing with corporate giants and some in our region fear they will have to close their doors. For decades JoAnne White has chosen Okeechobee Discount Drugs for the savings and the people. “The prescriptions are just ridiculous,” said White. “If [this drugstore] goes out of business and I have to go to one of these others – I don’t know what I’ll have to do.” On Thursday, White and other customers stood in the […]Read More
Florida Politics, March 8, 2020 Over the past year, I’ve made the drive from my small pharmacy in DeFuniak Springs to Tallahassee dozens of times to advocate for one priority: PBM reform. Unless significant reforms are made to Florida’s broken PBM system, patients will be put at risk due to lack of access to prescription drugs — especially those who live in smaller, more rural communities like mine. Local pharmacies have been under attack for some time by predatory middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers or PBMs. The three largest PBMs control 85% of the prescription drug market and, together, these operators are driving neighborhood pharmacies […]Read More