Monday, April 30, 2012


Hypocrisy continues to prevail in Texas, particularly in the area of health. Governor Perry and others continue to lambast the effort of everybody who is being responsible and managing their own health care by way of insurance.  Republicans also go bonkers attacking every organization which has ever favored allowing legal abortions--so-called "protecting the unborn."  

Unfortunately, at the same time, the already-born do not fare so well.  Somehow, our governor and our legislators ignore the fact that Texas leads the nation in under-insured or non-insured children. Worse yet, a recent study has shown that Texas also leads the nation in children’s deaths due to abuse--and this occurs while the Texas Legislature continues to underfund Children’s Protective Services.

Poor folks in Texas seeking help with their health are in for another body blow.  Not only poor folks, but middle-class Texans also are about to suffer a major difficulty. If the legislative mandate stays in place--Texans particularly elderly Texans--can forget the friendly service of their corner drug store, as well as home delivery of pharmaceuticals.

Texas, through our governor, has decreed that Medicaid payments, including pharmaceuticals, will be controlled by private benefit managers. Unfortunately, several of these also own their own chain of retail pharmacies such as CVS.  These so-called managers are now offering contracts which would only reimburse independent pharmacists rates per prescription which cause the corner drugstore to lose anywhere from $5 to $11 per prescription.   

These so-called managers are attempting to do away with the independent pharmacy and force Texans to either deal with Walgreens, CVS or mail order pharmacies. The local corner drug store is not only a major convenience and friend to many Texans, but it is a good thing for our health.  The local pharmacist generally knows his customers, knows their needs, and in addition to filling prescriptions, can give decent advice related to medications. In most cases the corner pharmacist does not require you to stand in line and treats you more like a real human than simply a number waiting to be served.

Policies being adopted by our state at this time will also have another devastating effect on Texas--it will send about 36,000 employees’ jobs out of state.  A recent study commissioned by independent pharmacy groups predicted 1,300 stores in Texas will be out of business in the next few months.  While Texas politicians will state to the public they are looking out for us, it gives me little comfort to know the state law requires that an all-night pharmacy must be within 70 miles from my home.

If the way the state of Texas has chosen to deal with Medicaid pharmaceuticals is any indication of future policies, Texans would be ill-served to follow Governor Perry’s recommendation that we do away with Medicare and simply have the federal government send block grants to the states and let the states devise a plan for health. Such a scenario is almost sure to short Texans even further on health care, even though we now rank near the bottom of all of the states.

It seems like the same ol’ same ol’--rich folks, well connected with the governor’s office, are gonna get richer. And the rest of us will have to shift for ourselves, being at best inconvenienced, and at worst deprived, of adequate health resources.

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