CVS Issues Refunds to 11K Women Illegally Charged for Birth Control
Following an inquiry by Calif. Rep. Jackie Speier (D), CVS Health announced that it will reimburse about 11,000 women who were illegally charged copayments for generic birth control, The Hill reports (Viebeck, The Hill, 9/24).
The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to provide women with access to no-cost birth control.
After a staff member was charged a $20 copay for generic birth control, Speier in a letter to CVS CEO Larry Merlo, wrote, "Although my staff member's issue was eventually resolved a week and numerous phone calls and pharmacy visits later, I am concerned that most women who are likely not familiar with their rights under the ACA may go without this essential family planning service that is supposed to be guaranteed to them under law" (United Press International, 9/25).
CVS said the issue stems from a price-coding error that will be fixed by Sept. 26 (Kutner, Salon, 9/24).
A CVS spokesperson said the pharmacy chain was already working to fix the error prior to receiving Speier's letter.
In a letter sent late last week to Speier, Sol Ross, head of federal affairs for CVS, wrote, "Refund checks will be (sent) to affected plan members by Sept. 26. In fact, refund checks have already started to go out and all should be received by Oct. 1" (United Press International, 9/25).
CVS also noted that pharmacists have been given the authority to address errors immediately on site if coding errors occur in the future (Salon, 9/24).
Speier Sets Sights on Walgreens, Target
Meanwhile, Speier also is asking Walgreens and Target to address consumers' complaints about being charged copays for birth control at their pharmacies (The Hill, 9/24).
Speier said the companies must ensure that pharmacists understand ACA requirements (Salon, 9/24).
In a statement, she said it is important that companies "provide training to their retail pharmacists to know and apply the basic principles of the Affordable Care Act so that they can help identify and rectify these illegal copay charges for customers who frequent their stores" (Speier statement, 9/22)
In addition, she is urging individuals who are charged an illegal copayment to contact her office (Salon, 9/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.