Archive for Friday, June 11, 2010

State insurance plan members will no longer be able to fill prescriptions at Walgreens

June 11, 2010


— About 100,000 Kansas residents will have fewer places to get discount drugs because Walgreen Co. won’t do business with the firm managing the prescription drug program for state employees.

The state is dropping Walgreen stores from its network of pharmacies for the program starting July 9, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Friday. The program covers state workers, teachers, some local government employees, some retirees and family members.

Walgreen announced this week that it won’t participate in new or renewed prescription contracts managed by CVS Caremark Corp. Last month, a state commission approved a three-year contract with CVS to continue managing the state employees’ prescription plan.

Walgreen has 66 stores in Kansas, and last year, they filled about 24 percent of the prescriptions under the plan, according to the Kansas Health Policy Authority, which oversees it.

“We recognize this will be a disruption for our members, and we are working on plans to minimize that disruption,” said Doug Farmer, the health plan’s director. “In any area where there’s a Walgreens pharmacy, there is also another pharmacy that will still be part of the network.”

Walgreen, headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., is the nation’s largest drugstore chain, just ahead of Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Caremark.

Walgreen has questioned policies it believes are designed to push plans’ participants to CVS pharmacies and has suggested CVS’ reimbursement rates are unpredictable. CVS Caremark contends Walgreen is trying to obtain better rates.

CVS faced some scrutiny from legislators earlier this year, when a national organization representing unions suggested state employees and others were paying too much for many prescriptions — a claim CVS said was based on misleading information.

A Kansas House committee had a hearing, but Farmer defended the state’s contract with CVS, and legislators didn’t do more with the complaint.

Jane Carter, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said taking Walgreen stores out of the pharmacy network will make it harder for state workers to get their prescriptions in a timely manner.

“Walgreens isn’t only one of the cheapest places, but one of the most accessible in Kansas,” she said.

But the Health Policy Authority doesn’t expect significant problems.

“Our review shows if you are going to Walgreens, there should be another network pharmacy nearby,” spokesman Peter Hancock said.


Steve Jacob 8 years ago

My family got kicked out of Walgreens and CVS this year for Dillions. Picking stuff up on the way to work at 5AM in the drive up window was a nice luxury.

George_Braziller 8 years ago

I miss Round Corner. A walk-in prescription that would have only taken ten minutes to fill at Round Corner became a 1 1/2 hour wait at Walgreens.

Paul Geisler 8 years ago

CVS bought Caremark a few years ago so now CVS owns the prescription benefit plan under Caremark's name. That's why the CVS logo is on your prescription card!

jayhawks12 8 years ago

@spacehog CVS wasn't able to give you a price for prescriptions through your insurance until a recent system update without committing insurance fraud. The pharmacist didn't "refuse" to give you price info, it was just illegal and probably impossible anyway without your insurance info and a prescription. It's amazing what you can learn when you ask questions instead of just assuming things.

kansastruthteller 8 years ago

spacehog, of course state employees can go whereever they want, they'll just have to pay full price at some pharmacies like Walgreens.

It is not the state's mistake to fix. It is a business decision made by CVS and Walgreens and the state has no control over it.

lastcall4oh 8 years ago

The state purchase a benefit for their employees from Caremark-CVS. If they (the state) want their employees to have the ability to go to Walgreens, they can obtain services from a provider that does use Walgreens. It is their choice.

jafs 8 years ago

That information could be obtained over the phone - why did they require people to come into the store?

jayhawks12 8 years ago

Yeah, they could have gotten the insurance info over the phone (as long as he was able to figure out what info they needed), but they'd still need the actual prescription to be able to send a claim to insurance. Without it, it would be insurance fraud. As far as I know, they now have a system that allows them to do test claims so they can give price info without the script.

KU_cynic 8 years ago

My grandmother retired as a 25+ year Walgreens employee, so I've always felt some loyalty. However, the local Wal-Green's on 6th Street has been dropping the ball repeatedly over the past year. Misplacing filled and to-be-filled prescriptions, saying they're ready when they're not, and charging higher prices on some products than many other local pharmacies. My familiy has already begun to diversify some prescriptions to lower-cost providers, at some inconvenience in terms of business hours or distance from home. I guess we'll go all the way over now.

I guess they'll be less crowded at Walgreens now.

guesswho 8 years ago

shop a local pharmacy, like Orchards! Great service, and much more attention if you have multiple meds to know how they interact.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Expanded and Improved Medicare for All

Would Provide Real Healthcare and Insurance Reform!

The United States spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on healthcare – $8160 per capita – yet performs poorly in comparison and leaves over 46 million people without health coverage and millions more inadequately covered.

Expanded and Improved Medicare for All is the solution.

  • Easy to Implement: Medicare has been in existence since 1966, it provides healthcare to those 65 and older, and satisfaction levels are high. The structure is already in place and can be easily expanded to cover everyone.

  • Simple: One entity – established by the government – would handle billing and payment at a cost significantly lower than private insurance companies. Private insurance companies spend about 31% of every healthcare dollar on administration. Medicare now spends about 3%.

  • Real Choice: An expanded and improved Medicare for All would provide personal choice of doctors and other healthcare providers. While financing would be public, providers would remain private. As with Medicare, you chose your doctor, your hospital, and other healthcare providers.

  • State and Local Tax Relief: Medicare for All would assume the costs of healthcare delivery, thus relieving the states and local governments of the cost of healthcare, including Medicaid, and as a result reduce State and local tax burdens.

  • Expanded coverage: Would cover all medically necessary healthcare services – no more rationing by private insurance companies. There would be no limits on coverage, no co-pays or deductibles, and services would include not only primary and specialized care but also prescription drugs, dental, vision, mental health services, and long-term care.

  • Everyone In, Nobody Out: Everyone would be eligible and covered. No longer would doctors ask what insurance you have before they treat you.

  • No More Overpriced Private Health Insurance: Medicare for All would eliminate the need for private health insurance companies who put profit before healthcare, unfairly limit choice, restrict who gets coverage, and force people into bankruptcy.

  • Lower Costs: Most people will pay significantly less for healthcare. Savings will be achieved in reduced administrative costs and in negotiated prices for prescription drugs.

parrothead8 8 years ago

Well, health care reform DOES have an effect on prescription drug benefits, but I agree with you about Merrill. Funny thing is, most of the time I agree with his sentiment, but 99% of the time I just skip over his posts because none of it is worth reading. There's no passion, no personality. Just a bunch of cut and paste.

trinity 8 years ago my experience it appears a lot of 'home-town' type pharmacies (my favorite, by the way) have taken a nosedive and had to close because wal-mart and walgreen's both came to town. ottawa, for long long running downtown pharmacy and one that was south of downtown a bit closed recently, bought out by the walgreen's. so now you have a choice of pharmacies; the one remaining drugstore downtown or wal mart. hmm i think i know where i'll be getting Rx meds if i need 'em!

Centerville 8 years ago

Merrill, Expanding Medicare is beyond imagining, now that the Democrats have cut $500 billion out of it. They had to do that to pull the wool over the CBO's eyes long enough to pass ObamaCare. Amazingly, Medicare enrollment is mandatory at age 65. So the demand is being coercively inflated and the benefits are being cut by 21%. So who can fault area physicians for getting out of the Medicare mess?

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