Prescription Benefits in Danger

TimesLedger Newspapers
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Imagine that one day you head to a local pharmacy to pick up a prescription and find out the store no longer accepts your employer’s pharmacy plan. This could happen soon consumers in New York state if the Federal Trade Commission signs off on a plan to merge two of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit managers.

The effect of the merger is already being felt at Walgreens, which decided not to renew its contract with Express Scripts due to what it perceives as unsatisfactory reimbursement rates. Walgreens is reportedly hoping to retain Express Script customers by coming up with a transition plan.

Under the proposition, two of the nation’s three major pharmaceutical benefit management companies — Medco Health Solutions and Express Scripts — have been making their case before Congress and the FTC to merge into one entity.

At a rally last month in front of a Queens pharmacy, state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas warned that the loser in this merger could be you.

The new PBM could control more than 40 percent of the national prescription volume. Imagine the impact it will have on small pharmacies. And imagine, by cutting competition, the impact it may have on the co-pay under employer benefit plans.

The FTC will have to draw the line between free enterprise and the potential of monopolies to destroy competition. We urge the FTC to come down on the side of the consumer.

Guv Goes Out on Limb

In his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the “largest convention center in the nation” has been proposed at Aqueduct Racetrack. Cuomo said he is in negotiations with Genting, whose subsidiary runs the Aqueduct racino.

The casino has been a success and a convention center would create temporary construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs, but it could also be risky.

Has there been a study that shows people would be willing to travel to a convention center on the outskirts of Queens? Will the nearby casino be a draw? This is not Manhattan — a tourist destination.

If this becomes a done deal, we hope it is a winner.

Posted 12:00 am, January 14, 2012
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