Dozens of community churches from around New York this week in a letter raised concerns with a proposal to change how prescription drugs are purchased in the Medicaid program which advocates fear could drive up the cost of medications used to treatment ailments like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.
Known as a prescription drug carve out, the move is meant to save $87 million and help streamline the Medicaid program, taking in part recommendations of a panel meant to reduce the cost of one of most expensive safety net programs in the program.
But advocates, along with state lawmakers, have pointed to the implications of the change, which could lead to higher drug prices for health providers under the 340B program. These entities purchase the drugs at a discounted price and provide services like food and housing assistance to low-income New York residents.
"It is unconscionable to deprive front-line safety net organizations of the resources required to meet the needs of minority communities," the groups wrote in the letter to Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. "We respectfully request that you reverse the planned changes to the Medicaid program, i.e., the drug carve-out. Now is not the time to disrupt vital health care to the millions of New Yorkers who trust and rely on their community providers."
The changes are set to take effect on April 1.