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Governor Bill Lee Passes a Bill For Protecting Pharmacies

Gov. Bill Lee has signed into law legislation for protecting independent Pharmacies from rising fees and patient-steering associated with the companies that manage prescription benefits on behalf of health insurers.Greg Bohannon, co-owner of Thrifty MedPlus Pharmacy in Ooltewah, said pharmacy-benefit managers, which have ballooned into monopolies in recent decades, are unfairly targeting small Pharmacies.

Greg also said that at a point, the House, the Senate and the governor have all spoken, and laid out the guidelines for how they expect the pharmacy space to operate, and how they expect to act in that space.

The bill prevents pharmacy benefits managers from discriminating against hospitals and clinics participating in a federal drug-pricing program which allows them to buy medications at reduced rates, allows patients to choose their own pharmacy, and creates transparency for patients and providers on drug pricing and co-pays. PBMs countered their industry helps lower drug costs for patients.Bohannon explained Pharmacy benefits managers  use a number of tactics to increase profits, which often result in patients and small Pharmacies footing the bill.

The co-owner of Thrifty medplus said that a lot of times they pay less than what the pharmacy has to pay for the medication. He also noticed that the state’s independent Pharmacies have stepped up to serve Tennessee communities during the pandemic. He also outlined the manufacture of the hand sanitizers or sourcing sone hard-to-get products for the store and for our customers, or curbside delivery program.One survey of 600 independent Pharmacies nationwide by Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency found PBMs charged community Pharmacies more than $2 billion in medicare prescription fees in 2017 and 2018.

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