Castor and local pharmacists call out HMO's on tardy reimbursements

05/30/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

In recent months the problem with independent pharmacies getting reimbursed from health insurers as part of the Medicare Part D plan has continued to grow.

Today in the Town N Country section of Hillsborough County, Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor and 3 local pharmacists discussed the problem, and proposed legislation in Washington to remedy the situation. (roll tape#1 o.q.”like they should “)

Specifically, Castor says that the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, passed by the GOP led Congress in a controversial fashion that included arm twisting by then house Majority Leader Tom DeLay and went into effect a year and a half ago, is different than the traditional Medicare plan in that there is now a middle man – the insurance industry. (roll tape#1 o.q.”control the business”)

Dan Fukorino is a pharmacist with the Carrollwood Phamacy. He says the main problem are the HMO’s are reimbursing phamacies like his at an extremely slow rate (roll tape#3 o.q.”more and more pharmacies will close”)

In fact, Fukorino says he knows at least 1 pharmacy which had to close down because of the reimbursement problems.

Leke Alai is the Pharmacy Manager at Bears Pharmacy in North Tampa. He said not only the reimbursements from HMO’s for purchased drugs coming in late, but in many cases, they are only paying a fraction of the actual cost for the drugs, further putting out the local mom & pop Pharmacies like his own (roll tape#3 o.q.”no way we can cope with the situation”)
Medicare Part D is also known as the Prescription Drug Plan that was desired by many seniors and others on Medicare for years, because of the exoribitant costs of prescription drugs over the years.

Some plans have co-payments for some drugs. Durell Campbell is with College Hill Pharmacy, a family owned and operated store for over half a century in East Tampa. She criticized those co-payments that previously didn’t exist under Medicare, saying it’s forcing some of her customers to simply go without getting their medication (roll tape#4 o.q.” has been cut in half”)

The manager at Bears Pharmacy , Leke Alai, says it’s independ store owners like himself and his colleagues gathered at the news conference who are getting hurt – not the big chains, like CVS or Wallgreens (roll tape#5 o.q.”as we are”)

Congresswoman Castor says there is legislation to address this problem pending in the House. Democrats had campaigned last year on fixing Medicare Part D. They had hoped to change the law allowing the government to be able to negotiate drug prices with the drug companies. Congresswoman Castor said they came extremely close on that (roll tape#6 o.q.” on negotiating fair prices”)

Congresswoman Castor also said she is hopeful that in the future, there will be universal health care to cover everybody in the country, but until then, she will work to pass the Childrens Health Care program , which is up for reauthorizati

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