APRIL 01, 2006

Because of the new Medicaid drug reimbursement cuts approved by Congress, community pharmacists participating in the program will lose money on every generic prescription starting next year, retail pharmacy leaders charged. The legislation, scheduled to take effect January 1, 2007, reduces only the Medicaid reimbursement on generic drugs, while leaving more expensive brand name drugs untouched.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) pledged to work with federal Medicaid administrators and state health officials to soften the impact of the generic payment cutbacks. "The governors of each of the 50 states should be searching in their wallets, because these costs are simply being passed on to them," the group said. "At a minimum, pharmacy dispensing fees will need to be increased in the states just to ensure that pharmacists will be able to continue to provide medications to patients in the Medicaid program."

Medicaid dispensing fees currently average $4.15 per prescription. This is already well below the actual $9.62 cost of dispensing a prescription, as confirmed by a 2005 study from the University of Texas. "With Medicaid reimbursements slashed, dispensing fees will need to increase, or pharmacists will lose money on most generic Medicaid prescriptions and be unable to continue serving Medicaid patients," NCPA said.