Independent pharmacy owners from across New York gathered at the state capitol on Tuesday. They are calling on lawmakers to eliminate the pharmacy benefit manager, which acts as the middleman between insurers and pharmacies.
Many small pharmacy owners like Chris Casey, the owner of Mead Square Pharmacy, these PBMs don’t reimburse for prescription drugs fairly. “Buying something for 100 dollars and being reimbursed at 70 dollars that is a loss. Profit is the only way I keep my lights on pay for the labels, I pay for my deliveries. I pay for my customers,” said Casey.
The lower prices are causing local owners like Casey to find ways to compensate. But in the end, he says it’s taking a financial toll.
“I had to lay off a pharmacist that worked for me for 11 years,” said Casey. “I had to cut my hours. I do everything I possibly can to control cost and it is not enough.”
According to Casey, if lawmakers do not eliminate the PBMS or call for fair reimbursement practices he could be forced to close. A move that would upset some victor residents.
“They have a real familiarity with their customers,” said Branden Rhodes It is like a family kind of thing here.”
The Pharmaceutical Care Management, which represents PBMs, released a statement earlier this year regarding the issue. “The role of PMBS is to reduce prescription drug costs and improve the quality of pharmacy benefits for their clients. It is not to enrich independent drugstores who are continuously pushing an agenda that increases their bottom line at the expense of the patients.
Small pharmacy owners are hoping lawmakers will move the compensation model to a fee for service. Meaning the pharmacy benefits manager would be eliminated and directly reimbursed for the medications they supply by the government and insurance companies.