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    Pharmacy choice bill dies

    Independent pharmacists in Colorado are disappointed after a Senate committee killed the “Pharmacy Choice Act” before it could come up for a vote.

    Rep. Jon Becker sponsored the billPharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) fought the legislation, arguing it would increase overall healthcare costs.

    Colorado House Bill 16-1361 specified that citizens eligible for prescription drug benefits be allowed to fill the scripts at whatever pharmacy they choose. The legislation passed in the House. However, the Senate Finance Committee squashed the companion Senate bill.

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    “We introduced the bill because RxPlus members reported that they are experiencing more and more patients being forced into mail order for maintenance medications, or being enrolled in plans that have narrow networks,” said Brad Young, government affairs director for RxPlus Pharmacies, a group purchasing organization for independent pharmacies.

    “More patients are not allowed by their insurance companies to pick up their medications at the local pharmacy that they may prefer. For a host of reasons, we believe that patients should be able to choose their pharmacy,” Young said.

    Despite the bill’s failure in the Senate, Young believes it can pass next year.  “We will work on educating legislators and candidates this summer and fall, and have an excellent chance of passing a bill next year.”

    However, Express Scripts, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the Colorado Association of Health Plans and other organizations will likely oppose similar proposals.

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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    • Mr. KO'NEIL
      Of course Express Scripts & PCMA would oppose such legislation, because it is totally in the interest of their profits. Covered members should not be forced either by rule of the PBM or differential copays, or be subjected to a very limited network of pharmacies. It is in such opposition to liberty and freedom of choice. If saving dollars for health plans is the important factor for those in opposition to this bill, I think it should be explored as to how much money would be saved if we did away with PBM's entirely. PBMs are not providers, but unnecessary middle men.