County Pharmacy Closures Affect Some Patients
Some patients in Contra Costa County have reported difficulty obtaining medications from commercial pharmacies after the county announced plans to close three county-run pharmacies in July, the Contra Costa Times reports. Patients are being directed to fill new prescriptions at commercial pharmacies.
The county pharmacy closures are part of a $20 million cost-cutting plan to balance the county's budget in fiscal year 2006-2007.
Some Medi-Cal beneficiaries have said they cannot afford deductibles charged by commercial pharmacies. Medi-Cal requires most individuals who earn more than $600 per month and couples who earn more than $934 per month to pay a share of the costs. The income thresholds have not been revised since 1989.
At county-run pharmacies, patients were not required to pay the deductibles up front, and the county often absorbed the cost, according to Contra Costa Regional Medical Center Administrator Jeff Smith.
In addition, some commercial pharmacies will not be prepared to handle the influx of new patients until the county in July electronically submits patient information to the pharmacies. In several instances, private pharmacies have not recognized the Contra Costa Health Plan, which provides coverage for 63,000 county employees and previously uninsured residents (Rosen Lum, Contra Costa Times, 5/30).