Medicaid Cuts: MORE Generics Better for Pharmacists and Customers, Not Less

May 19, 2009

(As submitted to the Miami Herald)

To the Editor:

The editors are right to recommend greater utilization of generic medicines to address soaring health care costs ("Generic Medicines and Their Future: Laws Covering These Drugs Need to Be Updated, Expanded," May 18, 2009). A key step toward increasing their use is ensuring community pharmacies can continue to provide them.

Currently, Medicaid, the insurance program for low-income Americans, is planning to cut the rate at which pharmacies are paid for providing generic drugs to below the acquisition cost. In other words, pharmacies would lose significant money every time they dispense a generic drug instead of a brand-name drug. The potential losses are so severe that many pharmacies would be forced to stop serving Medicaid patients or to close altogether. Congress must turn this backwards policy around and set fair compensation for pharmacies serving Medicaid patients.

Regardless of their health insurance plan, patients hoping to restrain drug costs should consult their community pharmacist. They may be able help save patients money while achieving the desired health outcome.

Bruce T. Roberts
Executive Vice President and CEO
National Community Pharmacists Association
Alexandria, VA

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