NEW YORK For pharmacy operators like Walgreens, the battle to tamp down state Medicaid budget cuts around the United States must seem like an increasingly urgent, high-stakes game of “Whack-a-Mole.” Delaware is just the latest state to rear its head.
Staggered by a severe financial shortfall in the midst of the worst recession in decades, Delaware has joined a growing list of states frantically scrambling to cut spending and stay solvent as tax revenues evaporate. In this grim climate, it’s become an all-too-familiar refrain that one of the favorite targets for state budgeters is Medicaid prescription reimbursement.
Walgreens has fought this battle before, in such states as Massachusetts, California, and most recently in Washington. The company’s threat to pull 44 of its stores out of that state’s Medicaid program strongly bolstered industry opposition to proposed deep cuts in prescription reimbursements when it was announced in late March.
Washington has since withdrawn its plan to cut Medicaid pharmacy payments. Let’s hope Delaware’s number crunchers follow the same route — and take a fresh, unbiased look at the far more effective cost-saving proposals that Walgreens, NACDS and other groups have so earnestly put forward.
If states like Delaware are really serious about saving health care dollars generated by their Medicaid enrollees, they need look no further than those ideas. Increasing generic substitutions, boosting patient-compliance programs and promoting integrated patient-care initiatives among pharmacists, physicians and nurse practitioners are great places to start.