MEDICAID FEES LAG FAR BEHIND DISPENSING COSTS, STUDY FINDS

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Although pharmacists in New York are paid an average of about $4.50 to fill each Medicaid prescription, the actual cost of dispensing medication in that state is now $10.96 per prescription, according to the results of a new study.

The research findings, released by the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action (CCPA), were based on a review of drug dispensing cost factors at 23,000 community pharmacies nationwide by the accounting firm Grant Thornton. The researchers found that dispensing costs ranged from $8.50 per prescription in Rhode Island to $13.08 in California.

In all cases, the average cost of dispensing a drug is more than the dispensing fee paid by state Medicaid programs. Adding to the problem is the fact that "many pharmacies serving Medicaid beneficiaries have higher than average costs of dispensing,"said the researchers.

"As a result of low reimbursement rates, many pharmacies will have trouble keeping their doors open or will be forced to reduce the number of pharmacists or pharmacy hours,"said Charles Sewell, copresident of CCPA. "Inadequate dispensing fees, compounded by a cut in Medicaid prescription drug reimbursement, threaten patient access and the pharmacist's ability to continue to provide patients with quality health care."

For a related article, go to page 75.