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NACDS praises court ruling on Medi-Cal cuts
February 1st, 2012
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – National Association of Chain Drug Stores is part of a group of health care-related organizations hailing a tentative decision by a federal court to block a 10% reimbursement cut in Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
NACDS said Tuesday that Judge Christina Snyder issued a 25-page tentative order, in which she favored the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. A final order, if consistent with her tentative ruling, would enjoin the cuts and is expected in the near future.
The lawsuit was filed against the California Department of Health Care Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in late November.
"We commend the court's tentative ruling in favor of preserving and protecting patient care," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. "Drastic cuts are not in the best interest of patient care or the state's finances. Community pharmacies help to reduce health care spending and improve patient health through pharmacy services, including medication counseling, vaccinations, education and screenings as well as the utilization of generic medications. Jeopardizing patient access to community pharmacy would diminish health and increase the reliance on more costly forms of care."
Also praising the ruling with NACDS were the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA), California Medical Association (CMA), California Dental Association (CDA), California Association of Medical Product Suppliers (CAMPS), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AIDS) and American Medical Response (AMR).
Last spring, the California Legislature passed and Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 97, which included a 10% reimbursement rate cut for physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other Medi-Cal providers. Federal approval was required — and was granted — for the state to implement its proposed cuts.
Because California Medi-Cal rates are already extremely low and many prescription medications are reimbursed at breakeven rates, many providers cannot afford to participate, according to pharmacy groups, which added that Kaiser State Health Facts lists California as the lowest reimbursed state in the nation.
"We are fighting for an injunction against these cuts on behalf of patients and the pharmacists who serve them," stated Jon Roth, CEO of CPhA. "The legislature needs to realize that using the Medi-Cal program to close the budget is bad medicine for California. When the legislature asked, we provided them with cost-effective solutions that would have helped close the budget gap. However, they effectively slammed the door on our proposed solutions when they voted to reduce reimbursement to providers by 10% and in turn have ensured that access to care for California's most vulnerable citizens is put in jeopardy."