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Lawmakers rally to save independent pharmacies

Lawmakers rally to save  independent pharmacies
Lawmakers rally to save independent pharmacies
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A 2019 analysis of Medicaid prescription drug claims showed that New York's independent pharmacies lost money on nearly half the prescriptions they filled and broke even on just one percent. And that's putting pharmacies out of business.

Senator James Skoufis of Newburgh led the charge at a rally of independent and retail pharmacists at the State Capitol on Monday, asking: "What other industry in New York State would provide a service or good and willingly take a hit?"

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Pharmacists say their businesses are facing extinction if the Fee for Service Parity bill is not passed.

It would require prescription drug middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, who operate the state's Medicaid Managed Care program, to reimburse pharmacies fairly for the drugs they dispense.

The pharmacists maintain these PBMs have a monopoly control over the price of drugs--forcing them to accept compensation that is often lower than what they had to pay for the meds. And it's driving cash-strapped neighborhood operations out of business.

Dr. Karl Williams is the President of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York. He says, "It's about patient access overall, but it will allow pharmacies to survive..."

Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald of Cohoes is a pharmacist. He's seen the dwindling numbers firsthand.

"You take my Assembly District--start on North Pearl and go to Cohoes, my hometown, four large chain pharmacies have closed because of the fact that the reimbursement methodology is horrific."
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Governor Hochul vetoed a similar bill that passed both the Senate and Assembly late last year, saying it was something that should be handled in the budget. But Senator Skoufis told those in attendance at Monday's rally that he was very optimistic that they would see fee for service parity show up in the Senate budget which will be released in a couple of days.

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