legislation

Prescription for Transparency

California Business Journal – August 25, 2020 Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) were created to be the middleman and negotiate drug prices. Working with the health care providers, pharmacies and the pharmaceutical companies determine reimbursements and what they’d charge the pharmacies. The problem is that without regulation, the PBMs have bad business practices. The fix is on the way. Magnified by the economic and health care impacts of the novel coronavirus, the Florida legislature is honing in on regulations for a long-veiled middleman in the chain of rising prescription drug pricing. Intended to serve as a beneficial consumer go-between for pharmacies and health insurance companies to provide cost analysis, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) have instead transformed into a profit-driven model favoring, among other things, large pharmacy chains over payer and patient pocketbooks. The classic Big Guy vs. Little Guy yarn was threatening to spin out-of-cost-control until organized advocacy groups and legislative …

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Independent Pharmacists Stress Personal Touch In An Industry Dominated By Chains

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 and Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig. Several speakers addressed the problems involving pharmacy benefit managers — middlemen who are supposed to negotiate savings for customers — and complained that they do not, in practice, benefit either the pharmacists or their customers. The pharmacists addressed several bills …

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Okeechobee pharmacist demands ‘special session on drug pricing reform’

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 drugstore – not for prescriptions – but to draw attention to the need for reform. “It is imperative that we demand a special session on drug pricing reform,” said Steven Nelson, a registered pharmacist, and Okeechobee Discount Drugs owner. “Lawmakers in Tallahassee continue to walk …

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Alex Andrade tackles Rx drug legislation, but does it go far enough?

The Floridian, February 21, 2020 Florida state Rep. Alex Andrade (R) is advocating for a bill that would create more transparency around the prescription drugs that Floridians buy. But some groups are questioning whether it goes far enough. This week, Rep. Andrade presented his bill about prescription drugs to the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill, HB 7045, addresses a number of different aspects including creating advanced notice requirements for drug price increases and requiring new reporting standards for certain entities in the prescription drug market. However, critics point out that the bill does not fix one issue that many consider is the biggest issue facing prescription drug supply chains, which is pharmacy benefit managers or PBMs. In a recent study by a group called 3 Axis Advisors, it was reported that PBMs – which are middlemen that set the prices of many prescription drugs – are using a process called …

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Pharmacists Say They Take Hit In Medicaid

Health News Florida January 31, 2020 Amid a legislative tussle with millions of dollars on the line, people who operate pharmacies in Florida contend they are getting short-changed by the state. A report released Thursday maintains that pharmacists participating in Florida’s Medicaid managed-care program are being woefully underpaid. State Medicaid officials estimate the cost of doing business in the Medicaid program is $10.24 per filled prescription. But on average, Medicaid managed-care plans paid pharmacists $2.72 per claim in 2018. The 202-page analysis was commissioned by the Florida Pharmacy Association and American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. and was conducted by 3 Axis Advisors. It was based on a review of more than 350 million Medicaid managed-care claims between 2012 and 2019 and claims data from more than 100 small community pharmacies across Florida to help validate the state data. The claims showed researchers what each managed-care company reported paying for each drug …

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New study highlights predatory practices by pharmacy benefit managers that drive up costs for patients, taxpayers

Capitol Soup, January 30, 2020 Study analyzing 359 million prescription AHCA drug claims documents widespread abuse   Legislators and advocates for reducing costs and improving access to prescription drugs today hailed a new independent study documenting that Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) have pocketed millions of dollars from the Florida Medicaid system – funds that should have been directed toward health care for millions of low-income residents. The study, commissioned by the Florida Pharmacy Association and American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. with data obtained from the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) by the Small Business Pharmacies Aligned for Reform (SPAR), highlights the predatory nature of a handful of vertically integrated PBMs and managed care organizations (MCOs). Sen. Gayle Harrell and Rep. Jackie Toledo, who have each filed legislation to rein in predatory PBMs, underscored the need for greater transparency and oversight when it comes to PBMs’ role in Florida. Continue Reading on …

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House and Senate in sync on PBM reform

Florida Politics, January 13, 2020 Will this be the year that Floridians at long last receive some financial relief from prescription drug costs? Physicians, pharmacists, and patients certainly hope so. One of the major issues heading into the 2020 Legislative Session is the role Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) play in setting prescription drug prices. PBM detractors often cast them as middlemen behind the rise of prescription prices. To that end, lawmakers have passed legislation eroding their profession in recent years. According to the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), a PBM trade association, their role is a little more nuanced. In their estimation, pharmacists deserve a share of the blame for rising prescription prices. At the core of the 2020 battle is a bill by Rep. Jackie Toledo and co-sponsor Rep. Randy Fine (HB 961) that would further limit PBMs’ ability to negotiate prices and rebates. The lawmakers held a news conference at a Tampa pharmacy last year pitching …

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Tom Wright bill pushes for pharmacy benefit manager reform

Florida Politics, December 24, 2019 State Sen. Tom Wright is pushing legislation for the upcoming 2020 Session that would increase regulation of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). A PBM is a company that helps determine which drugs will be covered by insurance plans. PBMs negotiate on behalf of insurers to secure discounts from drug manufacturers. But critics argue patients are being left behind when it comes to benefiting from any prospective savings. Wright’s bill (SB 1338) would up state-level regulation of those PBMs in several areas. First, it would increase the ability of the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to examine the practices of those PBMs. Health insurers, health maintenance organizations and PBMs would be required to submit an annual report to the OIR by March 1 of each year. That report must include the numbers of prescriptions dispensed, the proportion of those prescriptions that were provided through retail pharmacies — as compared to …

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Florida lawmakers push to improve access to prescription drugs, lower costs

The Capitolist December 20, 2019 Calling out Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or “PBM’s” for predatory business practices, a bipartisan group of lawmakers that includes Republicans Jackie Toledo and Randy Fine, Democrat State Rep. Kamia Brown and Democrat State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, unveiled new legislation this week designed to increase Floridian’s access to prescription drugs while lowering costs. The proposal would limit the practice of forcing patients to get their prescription drugs from pharmacies owned by pharmacy benefit managers. At a news conference announcing the plan, the lawmakers were joined by patients, doctors and pharmacists and small business owners who say PBM’s are pocketing most of the alleged savings they are able to procure. “PBMs aren’t medical doctors, and they shouldn’t be making medical decisions. Yet time and again we see them deny, delay, or obstruct the treatment plans that have been carefully considered and approved by patients and their physicians,” said Dr. Brandon Konkel, an oncologist from Tampa …

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Proposed Florida legislation targets pharmacy benefit managers

Tampa Bay Business Journal December 18, 2019 In an attempt to lower health care costs for Floridians, a Tampa Republican and other lawmakers want to crack down on the role of pharmacy benefit managers. Rep. Jackie Toledo held a news conference Tuesday to announce a proposal (HB 961) that would create a new law called the “Prescription Drug Cost Reduction Act” and make clear that certain practices, such as directing patients to pharmacies owned in whole or in part by pharmacy benefit managers should be prohibited. The 53-page bill was lauded by the Florida Pharmacy Association, which maintains that so-called PBMs are driving independent pharmacies out of business. But it was criticized by the managed care industry, which calls it a “misdirected attack.” Pharmacy benefit managers work with health plans and serve as sort of middlemen between drug manufacturers and pharmacies. Toledo’s bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, would substantially amend the …

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