New La. OGB pharmaceutical contract will move forward; takes effect January 1

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 1:47 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The new $2 billion pharmacy contract between the La. Office of Group Benefits and CVS Caremark will, in fact, move forward and take effect on January 1, despite attempts to have it revised.

According to a release from the Louisiana Senate, a judge in the 19th Judicial District Court dismissed the case between the independent pharmacists and OGB, stating that, “securing this contract is a function of the Executive Branch of Government.”

The judge’s decision comes despite repeated opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Attorney General Jeff Landry. On Dec. 28, Landry sent a letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards and Commissioner Jay Dardenne asking the OGB to refrain from pushing through a contract with Caremark, citing that it would create pharmacy deserts across Louisiana. Landry also wrote in the letter that it would cost taxpayers 3.5 times more than the state is currently paying for the Medicaid program.

Lawmakers and pharmacists, especially in rural areas, have argued the contract will financially impact independent pharmacies around the state causing them to lose their state employees/retirees as clients due to what they call inadequate reimbursement rates in the new contract. Independent pharmacies, like Ray’s Pharmacy, locally, said they will opt out of the new state contract due to the effects of losing upwards of $9 for each prescription that’s filled.

With the judge’s decision coming just days before the new year, over 200,000 state employees/retirees will have just three days to get in contact with their pharmacies to see if their pharmacy will be opting out of the contract or not. For the pharmacies that are opting out, their state-employee customers will likely have to find a new big-box pharmacy to fill their prescriptions and get their vaccines from.

District 28 State Senator Heather Cloud is recommending state employees fill their prescriptions by Jan. 1 to avoid any troubles come the beginning of the new year.

Sen. Cloud did tell News Channel 5 in a previous interview that the state’s auditor is currently reviewing the new pharmaceutical contract, but that the results will likely not come in until after the start of 2023.

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