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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Pharmacists Say Florida Will Ruin Them

TALLAHASSEE (CN) - The Florida Pharmacy Association claims Florida is unconstitutionally using an Internet mail-order program to steal half of their business, while cutting benefits to chronically ill Medicaid patients. The trade group claims the state will save no money from its program, which "illegally attempts to steer well over 50 percent of the state's chronically ill Medicaid patients away from their local pharmacies and into a single mail order pharmacy."

The Florida Pharmacy Association, founded in 1887, claims it is Florida's "largest and oldest" nonprofit corporation, representing pharmacists and pharmacies. The trade group and one of its members, Prescription Place of Defuniak Springs, seek declaratory and injunctive relief against Florida and its Agency for Health Care Administration.

The complaint in Leon County Court centers on the state's issuance of an Invitation to Negotiate on a 2010 appropriations bill.

The pharmacists say the state's plan "provides no cost savings to the state, does not result in any expenditure of state funds, and is an unconstitutional attempt to amend substantive law through the appropriation process."

They claim, "the proviso language unconstitutionally changes or amends substantive law by mandating the agency to issue an ITN [invitation to negotiate] that illegally attempts to steer well over 50 percent of the state's chronically ill Medicaid patients away from their local pharmacies and into a single mail order pharmacy. As demonstrated herein, the proviso language is an unconstitutional attempt to change or amend substantive law through an appropriations bill in violation of the Florida Constitution."

The pharmacists add that the policy change, putatively meant to "develop and implement a separate program for the statewide mail-order delivery of prescription drugs to Medicaid patients who have various chronic-disease states in order to assist Medicaid patients in securing prescriptions and to reduce program costs," does not accomplish its goals.

In fact, the pharmacists say, the program hurts Medicaid patients, and is "inconsistent with Florida and federal law in several regards."

The pharmacists say the program does not meet Medicaid's drug therapy management or freedom of choice requirements, which, results in patients who are selected for the program being deprived of "any meaningful consultation or review by a licensed pharmacist," while those who are not selected are left with fewer options for service.

And, the pharmacists, say, "There were no legislative hearings upon the appropriateness of this drastic policy change to the manner in which chronically ill Medicaid recipients receive their maintenance drugs."

The plaintiffs are represented by John Lockwood with Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart.

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