MEDICAID CUTS WOULD CHILL GENERIC DISPENSING

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Instead of encouraging community pharmacists to help control health costs by dispensing lower-priced generic drugs, the Bush Administration's new reimbursement plan for Medicaid pharmacies will do just the opposite, representatives of the nation's retail pharmacists warned. The proposed rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services at the end of 2006, attempts to implement provisions of last year's Deficit Reduction Act by placing new limits on payments to state Medicaid agencies for generic medications.

At the same time, however, reimbursement for higher-cost brand name drugs will be unaffected by the proposal, a situation that eliminates any incentive to encourage lower-cost generics, the National Community Pharmacy Association (NCPA) said.

"Under this plan, pharmacists would be losing an average of $3 to $4 for every generic prescription dispensed," Bruce Roberts, RPh, NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer, said. "We are very disappointed that the president would force such an anti-small business measure on pharmacists." He noted that more than half of all prescriptions dispensed by retail pharmacies are for generic medications.

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