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Fewer Drugstore Choices for Medicaid Patients in Washington

Drugstores for Medicaid Patients

Washington state, like many other states, is looking for ways to save money. One of the ways they have decided to use is to insist on cheaper, generic drugs for low-income Medicaid clients whenever they are available and equivalent to brand-name drugs. The state is also cutting the rate of reimbursements on all drugs to pharmacies which supply them.

In response to the above policy, the drugstore company Walgreen has decided to remove almost half of its Washington state pharmacies from the U.S. Medicaid program. The company feels this is necessary as the reimbursement cuts will severely impact their economic viability.

Walgreen is one of the largest U.S. pharmacy chains. Their decision will result in the withdraw of 44 of its 111 pharmacies in the state of Washington from the Medicaid program. This will result in fewer pharmacy choices for low income individuals who rely on Medicaid for their prescription coverage.

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Medicaid is partially funded by states. This makes it different from Medicare which is fully funded by the federal government. Washington state’s decrease in Medicaid reimbursements for brand-name prescription drugs will be effective Wednesday. Beginning then, the reimbursement will be 6% less than today.

Walgreen states their withdrawal of the 44 pharmacies from Medicaid will be effective as of May 1, a month after Washington introduces its plan. It said those pharmacies represent more than 60 percent of its total Medicaid business in the state.

There is a chance other pharmacies such as CVS Caremark Corp and Rite Aid Corp will follow suit in pulling out of Washington's Medicaid program.

Walgreen Press Release