NY Pharmacists Losing Their Livelihood--December 2008

December 11, 2008
Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos

Budget cuts in New York are leading to pharmacy closures.

Whereas New York saw an increase in pharmacy openings in 2007, it is a different story for 2008. Protect Pharmacy Patients, a coalition of health care advocates and pharmacists, has led the fight against budget cuts that have endangered patient access to critical health care services.

The state lost 152 pharmacies, due in large part to the impact of $50 million in recent Medicaid reimbursement cuts that have forced community pharmacies to withdraw from the Medicaid program or close their doors altogether. With the average pharmacy providing critical health care services to >6000 patients, the closure of >150 stores impacts the health care access of nearly 1 million New Yorkers and affects >2000 jobs.

“Since the $50 million in cuts were proposed, we have been warning the state about the devastating impact that they would have on patients, particularly seniors and vulnerable patients relying on Medicaid, EPIC, and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program,” said Nasir Mahmood, RPh, pharmacy owner and president of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, a coalition member. “Now the state’s own records demonstrate what we have been saying—communities are losing access to critical health care services and further cuts will only jeopardize more patients and increase health care costs. The governor must stop these cuts, and we call on the state legislature to continue to stand up for patients and small businesses.”

The state-imposed cuts enacted on July 1 resulted in a 70% reduction in reimbursement and $50 million in losses to the pharmacy sector. The cuts left New York State the last in the nation in pharmacy reimbursements. “Enacting more cuts to Medicaid as the governor recently recommended will only continue to cost jobs and hurt patients. This is a problem, not a solution. It’s time the governor recognized that pharmacies have been cut too much,” added Mahmood.

local pharmacies have been forced to withdraw from the Medicaid program or close their doors, more and more pharmacy patients are turning to hospitals and emergency rooms to receive medication or treatment for worsening medical conditions that could have been prevented through the care of a local pharmacist. The result is higher costs for the state.

St. John’s University Prof Emily M. Ambizas, PharmD, documented the devastating effects the pharmacy cuts have had on community pharmacies throughout the state in a recent white paper. She found that, as

For other articles in this issue, see:

Last Chance to Switch Part D Plans for 2009

OTC Plan B More Readily Available

New Study Says Off-Label Prescribing Needs More Scrutiny