NEW YORK — New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law a bill that would forbid health insurers from requiring plan members to order prescription drugs from mail-order pharmacies, according to published reports.
The governor signed the bill, AB 5502-B, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Carl Heastie from the Bronx, after both houses agreed to amend it to require retail pharmacies to agree in advance to accept reimbursement rates and terms and conditions identical to those for mail-order pharmacies. The bill would also prohibit insurers from exempting patients who buy through mail-order from co-pays while charging patients who obtain their drugs through some other channel, such as a retail pharmacy.
Supporters of the bill have said it will give consumers more freedom in determining how they get their prescription drugs and have also pointed what they consider to be risks of mail-order pharmacy, such as temperature-sensitive drugs left on patients' doorsteps in weather that could damage them. In addition, supporters say, the ability to pick drugs up at a retail pharmacy allows patients to interact face to face with pharmacists and take advantage of services such as medication therapy management.
The amendments drew a response from the pharmacy benefit manager lobby, which has opposed the bill. The Federal Trade Commission has expressed reservations about it as well.
"Employers, taxpayers and consumers appreciate Gov. Cuomo's admonition to the legislature to improve this costly, anti-consumer bill," Pharmaceutical Care Management Association president and CEO Mark Merritt said. "In this economy, employers need every cost-saving tool they can get, and mail-service pharmacy is at the top of the list."