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Hutchinson to consider Arkansas lawmaker’s pharmacy proposal

February 22, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas lawmaker says she’ll drop her push to take up the issue of pharmacy reimbursement during the ongoing fiscal session after the governor assured that her proposal will be considered in a special session.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Gov. Asa Hutchinson told Republican Rep. Michelle Gray on Wednesday that he’ll call a special session once consensus is reached on the language in the bill.

“He looked me in the eyes, and I have to trust that,” Gray said. “If I can’t trust my governor to do what he says he will do, I might as well pack up and go home.”

Gray spoke at a news conference organized by the Arkansas Pharmacists Association to bring attention to reimbursement practices by CVS Caremark, the pharmacy benefits manager for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. CVS Caremark paid pharmacies owned by its parent company an average of more than $60 more than it paid independent drugstores for about 270 common prescriptions, according to Scott Pace, chief executive of the association.

Gray and Republican Sen. Ron Caldwell filed resolutions last week so legislation could be considered during the fiscal session. The legislation would require pharmacy benefits managers to be licensed by the Arkansas Insurance Department, which would verify that companies have adequate pharmacy networks, provide sustainable reimbursement and don’t give financial incentives for patients to choose a specific pharmacy.

The proposal came in response to cuts in reimbursement to pharmacies for generic drugs provided to many Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield customers, which took effect Jan. 1.

“I expressed to Rep. Gray that I’m committed to the pharmacy issue being resolved in the special session,” Hutchinson said. “Everybody is working in good faith to develop the language. Once consensus is reached on the language of the bill, we will know what’s going to go on the call.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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