What the Washington state Medicaid budget crisis means for your business

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A budgetary crisis in Washington state has spawned new threats to pharmacy retailers as lawmakers and Gov. Chris Greqoire grapple with an expected shortfall of $1.4 billion in 2011. In response, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and local pharmacy organizations in Washington have mobilized to offset proposed deep cuts in the state’s Medicaid program, and to offer alternative solutions they say will assure better care for low-income citizens and provide long-term savings.

The governor has ordered an across-the-board cut of 6.3% in all state programs, which budgeters estimate will slash roughly $110 million from the state’s Medicaid programs. To that end, Greqoire announced, as of Jan. 1, 2011, the state will no longer provide the funding to pay Medicare Part D co-payments for dual eligible beneficiaries. An even more drastic proposal — to eliminate Medicaid prescription drug coverage for all beneficiaries ages 21 years and older — has been tabled.

Carol Kelly, SVP government affairs and public policy for NACDS, spoke at length with Drug Store News on Dec. 20 about what the state Medicaid budget crisis means for pharmacies in Washington, what NACDS is doing to resolve the issue and how the state could address its healthcare costs more effectively. Click above to listen to the full interview.