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Opinion

The Independent Drugstore Lobby Agenda: A Prescription for Higher Costs

As policymakers explore ways to reduce prescription drug costs, the independent drugstore lobby wants to pass legislation, H.R. 244, that would force consumers to pay more for generic drugs.

Under the guise of transparency, the drugstore lobby’s bill would eliminate Maximum Allowable Cost (MAC) reimbursement strategies that plans use to reduce costs for private-sector employers, unions, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D.

Forty-five state Medicaid programs now use MAC lists, up from 26 states in 1999. An analysis from the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General demonstrated “the significant value MAC programs have in containing Medicaid drug costs.” The OIG recommended that states strengthen MAC programs, not weaken them.

A MAC is simply the amount health plans reimburse pharmacies for generic drugs. Drugstores that choose to participate in a plan’s pharmacy network agree to accept these rates, plus a fee for each drug that is dispensed. MACs prevent drugstores from overcharging for generics.

The result of passing H.R. 244 would be patients, including seniors and disabled people covered under Medicare to military families and retired veterans covered by TRICARE, paying more for their prescription drugs and health coverage.

The solution to lowering drug costs shouldn’t be legislative handouts to the drugstore lobby.

Mark Merritt is President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.