Phim Sex Filme Porno PORNO GRÁTIS Filme Porno Phim Sex Walgreens-Express Scripts feud could affect thousands in Minnesota, Wisconsin [Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.] | Pharmacy News EU

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Walgreens-Express Scripts feud could affect thousands in Minnesota, Wisconsin [Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.]


Dec. 31A dispute between two giants in the pharmacy world means thousands of Minnesota and Wisconsin residents likely won’t have coverage to fill prescriptions at Walgreens stores starting Sunday.
As of Friday, Walgreen Co. and the employee-benefits manager Express Scripts still had not agreed to pharmacy reimbursement rates after six months of contract negotiations.
Walgreen, which operates 150 pharmacies in Minnesota and 224 in Wisconsin, says it won’t be part of Express Scripts’ network beginning Sunday.
An Express Scripts official estimated that the company provides pharmacy benefits for a few hundred thousand health plan members in Minnesota.
People who won’t have access to coverage at Walgreens either have a prescription card from Express Scripts or can find the company’s name listed somewhere on their health insurance card, said Brian Henry, a spokesman for the pharmacy benefit company.
Among Minnesota-based insurers, UCare is the largest health plan that uses Express Scripts.
But Express Scripts is not used by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners or Medica the three largest health insurers in Minnesota.
"In situations like this, people should call the number on the back of their health insurance card and ask for clarification," said Eileen Smith, a spokeswoman with the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, a trade group for insurers.
Golden Valley-based PreferredOne used Express Scripts in the past but switched to a new
pharmacy benefit manager for most customers this year, said Marcus Merz, the company’s chief executive officer.
In some cases, 40 percent of employees covered through PreferredOne groups use Walgreens, Merz said. The prospect of making that many workers change pharmacies was a tough sell, he said.
"We’re at a severe disadvantage if we’re the only ones with a pharmacy network that does not include Walgreens," Merz said.
UCare, however, stayed with Express Scripts. The nonprofit provides coverage only to Medicare beneficiaries and those in Minnesota’s public health insurance programs.
It’s unclear how many UCare members will be affected by the Walgreens issue because enrollment numbers for 2012 have not been finalized. But this month, UCare mailed letters about the rift to about 235,000 members.
The insurer said most patients have other nearby pharmacy options, including Cub Foods, CVS and Target.
"Walgreens has made a choice here to not be in our network and take rates that are reasonable for other pharmacies," said Gita Worcester, senior vice president of public affairs and marketing at UCare.
Walgreens argues that Express Scripts has offered below-market rates to the pharmacy chain and demanded more authority in determining when drugs are considered brand names or generic.
"We do not believe that there will be any meaningful cost savings to justify this needless hardship to patients, since we offered to keep rates flat," Kermit Crawford, a Walgreens executive, said Friday.
Walgreens could not say how many customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin are affected. But during a recent 12-month period, it filled about 90 million prescriptions that were processed by Express Scripts out of 820 million total prescriptions filled nationwide.
Although the impact at UCare is the most obvious local link to the Express Scripts contract dispute, it’s likely not the only one.
Some companies in Minnesota and Wisconsin use Express Scripts as the pharmacy benefit manager for employee health plans, although it’s unclear how many.
The rift has added a wrinkle to Minnesota’s public health insurance programs. As part of a broader change with a new competitive bidding program, more than 18,000 residents in the Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare programs are scheduled to switch Sunday into UCare.
People who find themselves covered by UCare starting Sunday and are trying to get a prescription filled at Walgreens should contact the health plan for help, said Scott Leitz of the state Department of Human Services.
"We believe that there’s quite adequate access to pharmaceuticals (without Walgreens)," he said.
There’s another wrinkle within public programs: BluePlus HMO also is dropping Walgreens from its pharmacy network as of Sunday, although the decision has nothing to do with Express Scripts.
At least 4,500 people in state public health insurance programs are scheduled to switch into BluePlus starting Sunday.
"BluePlus is committed to doing our part in reducing health-care costs for state public programs," Jim McManus, a company spokesman, said in an email.
BluePlus is operated by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, but the change only affects people in public programs.
Christopher Snowbeck can be reached at 651-228-5479. Follow him at
(c)2011 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
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