Sun Jan 22, 2006
medicare switch effects on small pharmacies : overwhelmed by "glitches"
Here is a follow-up to a previous post I made on medicare debacle in the SF Chronicle.
This plan is a small business killer. Expect far more small pharmacies in small towns to go out of business under these kind of 'reforms'. Under the new medicare plan:
'Pharmacists say they have been unable to fill prescriptions or have given out drugs without knowing if they will be paid..'
Far from being the privatization wet dream that the conservatives imagined, it's been a steamroller for the small business person who can't keep up with the glitches:
'"This is the biggest glitch that ever happened," said Potashnick, owner of Leo's Pharmacies, who has been in the business for 55 years. He and his staff said they have spent virtually all their time this week trying to sort out problems that were blocking patients from getting their medications.'
'Potashnick estimated his pharmacy filled about 70 prescriptions Wednesday instead of as many as 300 that would normally be filled following a holiday weekend.'
Small pharmacies that know their patients are doing everything they can - spending sometimes hours on the phone with insurance company run medicare 'hotline' on their patients behalf because nobody else will help them figure out the new system, yet, in many cases these small pharmacies are not eligible to serve their patients under the new plan:
'Ed Derderian, a pharmacist and owner of United Pharmacy in Dinuba (Tulare County), discovered this week that he was signed up by a third party with only seven of the 10 plans available in the state to people with both Medicare and Medi-Cal, as Medicaid is known in California. That means customers assigned to plans that Derderian has not contracted with must go elsewhere for their medication.'
'"I can't afford to give these people medication out of my pocket. It's breaking my heart to tell them to go down to Wal-Mart or Rite Aid," said Derderian, referring to the two other pharmacies in the small town between Fresno and Visalia.'
'Derderian said he was worried about both the health of his patients and his business.'
So, under the new medicare, which was written by big pharma and the insurance industry - mom and pop pharmacies are losing business to big mega pharmacies like WalMart - simply because they aren't included in every version of the plan.
And yet, small businesses are the ones most apt to help those most in need because they actually know their patients personally:
'At Galloway's Pharmacy in San Diego, the state's largest independent retail pharmacy, pharmacist Fadi Atiya said he has handed out about $30,000 worth of medication this week without knowing whether he will be reimbursed.'
"You can't access the patient's ID. When you call (the insurer), the wait time is 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes," Atiya said, describing just a few of the problems. "It's a comedy of errors, but it's not funny, because there are people's lives at stake."
I sincerely hope 2006 brings a backlash against the party that wrote and executed 'reforms' like this.
Category: George W. Bush
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