QUINCY, Fla. - More than 650,000 people receiving Medicaid in Florida are being told that after Nov. 1, they can only use big chain pharmacies to have prescriptions filled.
The policy of two providers has locally-owned drug stores crying foul.
Massey Pharmacy is a locally-owned business in Quincy, Florida, 25 miles west of the state capital. It's a favorite for locals.
"I've been going here just about all of my, just about since I was born just about, and I know the people that own it," said retired mosquito control director and customer Michael Dunn.
But locally-owned stores across Florida are feeling pressure from the HMOs managing the state's Medicaid program.
Two companies -- Molina and Humana -- account for almost one in five Medicaid patients, and they are limiting prescription refills to big chains, not small stores like this one.
"You have a policy statement that says a patient can go over here, but can't go over there," said Michael Jackson, of the Florida Pharmacy Association.
The pharmacy association is complaining loudly.
"They are being told that their taxes and fees you pay to help fund the Medicaid program to care for the indigent are good enough to take care of that program, but your services are not good enough, and we have a problem with that," Jackson said.
Massey Pharmacy was founded 80 years ago by Terrance Massey's grandfather.
"If one company gets by doing this, then other companies are going to follow suit," Massey said. "It's just a matter of time before it's going to happen."
State law allows managed plans to control their networks based on three factors: Price, quality and credentials. But pharmacists said they are only focusing on price.
The mom-and-pops said they can compete, but they're not even being given the chance.
"You know, jobs will be lost, and we're local," Massey said.
Ultimately, lawmakers may have the final say if other HMOs begin limiting competition.
The Florida Pharmacy Association met with the Agency for Health Care Administration. Previously, the ACHA has responded to complaints by saying it can only take action if the HMOs don’t have a pharmacy within 20 miles in a big city or 60 in a rural area.
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