FLORIDAS MEDICAID RX LIST MAY BECOME DANGEROUSLY SHORT-Andrew Stelzer

03/03/05

A coalition of patient protection groups issued a warning this morning, that Governor Bush’s plans to change the list of prescription drugs available under The states Medicare system could have grave consequences for many Floridians. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer reports

ACT-Frye “There are huge consequences of public health not being available…�

Jesse Frye is director of government affairs and advocacy with the AIDS institute, based in Tampa.

ACT-Frye “..People get sick, go to hospital, and health care costs go up for everyone..�

House speaker Alan Bense told the Tampa Tribune that the a list of prescription drugs the governor is lobbying for could be the most restrictive in the country. The stated goal is to save money by eliminating some of the more costly medications off the list of covered drugs, and streamline the list in order to save almost 300 million dollars. But the Coalition to Protect Health care access, which is made up of dozens of consumer and patient advocate groups, says its likely that people with HIV or AIDS, and the mentally ill could find themselves unable to get the prescription they need to stay healthy. The AIDS institute was one of the groups who participated in press conference this morning with the Coalition to Protect Health care access.

ACT-Frye “The recommendations have been for gong from preferred to advisory what that means is that they are gong to choose drugs that cost the least, but the problem with HIV is there aren’t generics available, and the least costly aren’t t the ones that are the most effective…�

5 years ago, the state of Florida created an advisory list of drugs, which would be covered, but put some exemptions on that list for HIV and mental health medications.

ACT-Frye “Go back 5 years and look at why those exemptions were in place…�

Frye points out that specific cocktails must be created to treat people with HIV and AIDS.

ACT “If it goes from an advisory to a formulary, then for HIV there wont be drugs to made combos needed, they wont have anyplace else to turn, and the money you’d save would be wiped out by hospital bills.

Another potential problem with the new plan is that if Florida’s list was more restrictive than a lost compiled by the federal government, Florida would lose any discounts that are negotiated by the federal center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But Jonathan burns, a spokesman for the agency for health care administration, says that Florida can get better discounts than the feds

ACT “We expect the manufacturers to continue to negotiate with the state and give us rebates.

The actual list wouldn’t be finalized until October, after the state legislature approves the plan to change it, according to Jonathan burns, a spokesman for the agency for health care administration.

ACT “We don’t know what the list is going to look, like..We have a group, the PNT to look at the list a get the best value of effectiveness…the committee is comprised of exerts, 5 physicians…how about patient advocates yes there are consumer advocates on the committee…�

But In fact, agency for health care administrations website lists only one member of the Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee as a “consumer�, the other 9 members included 5 doctors and 4 pharmacists—and all 10 members are appointed by Governor Bush. The consumer member, Leanne Lai, who is a professor of pharmacology at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, declined to be interviewed, instead she referred us to the committee chair, doctor Robert Blackburn, who did not return WMNFs call before airtime. Fyre from the AIDS institute says the committee puts economics before public health.

ACT-Frye The problem with the pnt committee, if it was a panel of HIV docs who are keeping up to date with the fed standards, that would be ok, but they’re not—they’re are mds appointed by the gov-; they are not experts in treating mental health, and most of their decisions are based or market, not clinical…�

The State legislature has been holding a series of public hearings to get input on what changes should be made to Medicaid. There will be one more hearing held by the state legislature in Jacksonville, on March 14th. For more information log on to flsenate.org

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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