N.Y. business group opposes limit on pharmacy mail order options

Business Council of New York State

The Business Council of New York State says proposed state legislation would limit pharmacy mail order options for health insurance purchasers.

“This legislation is bad for employers and the state,” Lev Ginsburg, director of government affairs at BCNYS, told American Pharmacy News.

Specifically at issue are companion proposals introduced in both New York legislative houses -- Senate bill S. 2530, sponsord by State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), and Assembly bill A.6194, sponsored by Assembly Member Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx), which would amend the state’s insurance law.

A new study from the health research firm Visante says the proposed bills could increase prescription drug costs by $400 million in 2016 and by $6 billion over the next decade by undermining the ability of public and private health plans to choose mail-service and specialty pharmacies, which lower drug costs by promoting generics, among other practices.

And because pharmaceutical benefits are optional in New York, Ginsburg says that the increased costs of a pharmaceutical rider – which is the major factor for employers in determining whether to provide this coverage to their employees – would cause a decrease in the number of employers offering pharmaceutical benefits to their employees.

That means the proposed bills also would “unquestionably result in increased pharmaceutical costs for New York’s consumers,” Ginsburg says.

At the same time, the BCNYS also wants to lay to rest the discussion over whether these bills are good for pharmacy competition.

In fact, the legislation would reduce competition, according to Ginsburg, who says small businesses would not have access to more affordable mail-order volume discounts and families would be denied access to cheaper prescription drugs.

The growth of prescription drug use, coupled with the impending “massive increases” in the number of insured New Yorkers under the federal health reform law, means there’s plenty of pharamaceutical business to go around “without resorting to protectionist legislation meant to pick winners and losers.” Ginsburg says.

Mail order and retail have shared in the overall growth of pharmacy expenditures, he writes in a BCNYS memo, and their businesses will continue to flourish if state legislators don’t adopt these bills.

“Mail order pharmacies have not put independent pharmacies at risk,” Ginsburg says. “We are hopeful the Senate will not pass this bill … ensuring New Yorkers will continue to see millions in volume-discount savings on their prescriptions.”

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Business Council of New York State 152 Washington Avenue NY - 12210