State auditor releases report on new pharmacy contract, at least 2,200 local state workers impacted

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:09 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:16 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office issued its report regarding the state’s new $2B pharmacy contract between the Office of Group Benefits and CVS Caremark that serves approximately 200,000 state workers and retirees.

The report findings come after several members of the Cenla delegation, including District 27 State Representative Mike Johnson and District 28 State Senator Heather Cloud, penned letters to the auditor to review the contract and the potential local impact of pharmacies opting out of it.

As of January 5, the results show that out of the 1,213 pharmacies in Louisiana, 72 independent locations opted out of the CVS Caremark network. A closer breakdown of the data from the auditor shows that rural parishes appear to be more affected by pharmacy opt-outs than more populated parishes.

In Central Louisiana specifically, 12 out of the 83 pharmacies either fully or partially opted out, affecting a minimum of 2,200 customers who now will have to find an entirely new pharmacy that could be double the miles away. The 2,200 state employees who will have to find a new big box location translates to over 30,000 prescriptions that the new pharmacies will have to fill despite already being overwhelmed with staffing shortages. This data includes Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine and Vernon Parish.

Pharmacists have had to make the difficult decision to lose their state-employee customers due to the reimbursement rates for certain medications being lower than the cost to obtain the drugs, meaning they would be sold at a loss.

As it relates to larger metropolitan areas, no pharmacies opted out of the contract in New Orleans, Lafayette and Lake Charles.

However, the same cannot be said for nine specific municipalities listed in the report, including three local towns: Ball, Campti and Cottonport. In these areas, every pharmacy opted out of the OGB contract, leaving state workers without an available pharmacy in that town.

While the auditor’s report only shows data findings, it does not recommend any solutions. State lawmakers are already asking Attorney General Jeff Landry to review the new results and recognize some of the negative impacts of the contract.

Back in December, Landry wrote a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards and Commissioner Jay Dardenne asking to refrain from pushing through, but despite repeated efforts, the contract went into effect on Jan. 1.

Full Report

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