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Small independent pharmacies a focus of legislation moving in Frankfort

Stu Johnson

Legislation that proponents say will help independent pharmacies remain more viable is before the Kentucky General Assembly. Movement on a bill is happening with less than ten days remaining in the current session.

Campbellsville GOP Bill Sponsor Max Wise says independent pharmacies have been facing closures and buyouts and the bill allows patients choice in where to go for prescriptions. There is language in the bill about dispensing fees, something Wise said has been modified.

“Also the dispensing fee as it relates to working with the Department of Insurance, that they will be able to do a study, looking at what we’ve done with Medicaid, but also their ability to look at the commercial plans of finding what that dispensing fee would actually look like,” said Wise.

Conner Rose with the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association said the bill is about paying independent pharmacies more and there are other ways to address Pharmacy deserts.

“We should be looking at empowering pharmacies or pharmacists rather to practice at the top of their license, to expand on the services they’re providing, and earning more revenue from different areas,” said Rose.

Wise called it a “landmark piece of legislation.”

Wise said there have been sizeable pharmaceutical savings in Medicaid and he thinks this offers the same opportunity on the commercial side.

Among other things, the broad bill requires the State insurance commissioner to review pharmacy networks and establish requirements between a pharmacy or pharmacist and an insurer, a pharmacy benefit manager, or any other pharmacy benefits administrator.

Rose said the legislation could result in higher dispensing fees. The PMA rep also noted savings through the pharmaceuticals in Medicaid come in the form of drug rebates.

The Senate bill moved out of committee Thursday.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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