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With the Affordable Care Act's recent approval from The Supreme Court, focus in the nation's health care debate has shifted to the state level. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has vowed not to expand Medicaid, and several other Republican governors have done the same, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Texas had already been in the process of cutting millions from Medicaid by shifting patients in the program over to managed care, a move that could drastically slash reimbursements and hurt health care providers, including smaller independent pharmacies.

Bruce and Human Drug Co. in Wills Point Texas is the oldest continually family-owned pharmacy in the state. The pharmacy has been in Adele Monning's family an impressive 133 years. Under Texas' dire health care system, which includes a recent switch to managed care for Medicaid patients, this pharmacy and others like it may be in jeopardy.

The Austin-American Statesman reports:

Freda Malone, the store manager, said the mission has always been simple. "Whatever the need is in the community (is what we did)," she said. Of course the basis for the pharmacy is medicine and the history of that is evident throughout the shop. Not just behind the raised platform where the pills are doled out." Pharmacies like these have served their local communities for many years, providing high quality health care to their communities.
Texas implemented managed care on March 1 of this year and community pharmacies like Bruce and Human Drug Co. have been negatively impacted by the change.  They have seen dramatic reductions in reimbursements and revenues, unfair poaching of independent pharmacy customers by CVS Caremark, a managed care pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), and computer errors and miscommunications from the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Independent pharmacies under managed care also suffer from a total lack of transparency in dealing with PBMs, making evaluating PBM contracts, a vital step in setting prices and reimbursements, much more difficult.

In the end, Medicaid beneficiaries have been left with limited access to care and pharmacies have been faced with closures and ongoing hardships for those still in business.

The Texas state legislature needs to step up and implement protections for patients and pharmacies to ensure that community pharmacies like the Bruce and Human Drug Co. are able to continue to serve their communities with high quality health care going forward.

Visit Pharmacy Choice and Access Now for more information.

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