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Bartell draws line in sand over Medicaid cuts

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SEATTLE — Citing recent reductions in Medicaid reimbursement rates, Bartell Drugs has said it will stop filling Medicaid prescriptions at 15 of its 57 stores, effective February 1.

The situation in Washington state stems from a court decision in late September, which effectively reduced the average wholesale prices (AWPs) used to calculate reimbursement rates.

Bartell chairman and chief executive officer George Bartell says that unlike its counterparts at most other states, Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has not adjusted its reimbursement rates to compensate for the change, and the result has been sizable reductions in payments to pharmacies for DSHS/Medicaid prescriptions.

Bartell Drugs has responded by saying it will stop filling those prescriptions at 15 of its stores, including 12 in King County and three in Snohomish County. Bartell calls the move reluctant but says it could involve more stores in the future.

“We want to fill prescriptions; Bartell Drugs is here to serve our customers — to fill their prescriptions and meet their health care needs — and we feel we do a good job offering outstanding patient care,” Bartell says. “Accordingly, this is a painful decision and one we do not take lightly. We want to be clear that the decision has nothing to do with our DSHS customers but only with the state. We look forward to serving these customers any other way we can.

“I can’t speak for other pharmacies across the state, but we hope that the state will reconsider their reimbursement and meet its responsibility to provide access to all Medicaid recipients. Our sincere hope is that this issue will be resolved so we do not need to expand our exclusion of DSHS prescription services to additional locations.”

Bartell and others at the 119-year-old, family-run chain are urging concerned customers to contact the governor’s office or their state legislators. The company says it wants to get the level of compensation for DSHS/Medicaid prescriptions returned to what it was before the court action of September 26, 2009.


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