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Bartell to cease filling Medicaid prescriptions at 15 locations

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SEATTLE Regional pharmacy chain Bartell Drugs announced that it will stop filling Medicaid prescriptions at 15 of its 57 stores, citing recent reductions in compensation from the state to pharmacies filling DSHS/Medicaid prescriptions.

The move is effective Feb. 1, 2010. Of those stores that will stop filling Medicaid prescriptions, 12 are located in King County and three are in Snohomish County. 

“We want to fill prescriptions. Bartell Drugs is here to serve our customers — to fill their prescriptions and meet their healthcare needs, and we feel we do a good job offering outstanding patient care. 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,” stated George Bartell, chairman and CEO of the 119-year-old, family-owned chain. “We look forward to serving these customers any other way we can.” 

On Sept. 26, 2009, the industry pricing standard was reduced as a result of a court decision in Massachusetts. Bartell stated that, unlike most other insurance providers, including other states, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has made no effort to offset this significant reduction, resulting in sizeable reductions in payments to pharmacies.

He added that lengthy discussions between pharmacy industry leaders and DSHS, along with subsequent legal actions, have failed to resolve the issue thus far. The intent is to return to the established level of compensation prior to the Sept. 26, 2009, court action.

“I can’t speak for other pharmacies across the state, but we hope that the state will reconsider [its] 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 stated.

Company officials are urging concerned customers to contact the Governor's office at (360) 902-4111, or local state legislators through the legislative hotline at (800) 562-6000.

Bartell Drugs stores impacted in King County include Ballard, Roosevelt, University Village, Magnolia, Admiral Way (West Seattle), Bellevue Village, Bridle Trails and Houghton (both in Kirkland), Inglewood, Bella Bottega and Redmond Town Center (both in Redmond) and Sammamish Plateau. Snohomishm County locations include Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Seattle Hill Road.

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