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Washington state pursues cut in Medicaid
June 8th, 2009
SEATTLE – Washington state officials say they will continue to seek a reduction in the state’s Medicaid prescription reimbursement rate — only not as severe a cut as was originally proposed.
After lawmakers passed budget legislation last month, officials at Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services said they would continue to pay 86% of the average wholesale price on name brand drugs for Medicaid prescriptions through at least July 1.
After that, they say, they would like to have the reimbursement rate rolled back to 84% of average wholesale price.
Social and Health Services officials estimate that the lower rate would save the state about $12 million a year.
The department moved to lower the Medicaid reimbursement rate to 80% on April 1, explaining that the cut was needed to help close a $9.3 billion budget shortfall through June 30, 2011. The agency estimated that the lower rate would save the state almost $25 million a year.
The proposal led to a legal battle, with several pharmacy operators bringing a lawsuit in federal court. A judge blocked the reimbursement change, ruling that the pharmacy groups’ concerns had not been adequately considered and that the lower rate would reduce the quality of care for Medicaid beneficiaries.
Walgreen Co. went so far as to threaten to stop filling Medicaid prescriptions in 44 of its 111 stores in the state, while Bartell Drug said it was prepared to stop accepting new Medicaid patients. A handful of independent pharmacies across the state said they might have be forced to close.