Riverside Press-Enterprise Examines Union Trusts’ Cross-Border Pharmaceutical Coverage Plan
The Riverside Press-Enterprise yesterday reported on how two trust funds that provide health coverage to about 3,500 Inland Empire union members are covering the cost of medications bought at a pharmacy in Tijuana, where the drugs cost about 40% less than they do through U.S. discounted drug plans. Plan members travel on their own to the pharmacy, pay for the drugs up front and then submit reimbursement requests. There is no copayment, and the optional plans cover the full cost of the medications. Riverside-based IPM Health and Welfare Trust Fund of California and El Monte-based Laborers Health and Welfare Trust of Southern California are thought to be among the first to fully reimburse union workers for drugs bought outside the United States, the Press-Enterprise reports. Bob Glaza, administrator of Laborers Health and Welfare Trust, said some workers already travel to Mexico to buy medicine, adding, "We're saying, 'You've wanted this kind of stuff for years and now we're doing it.'" But Mexico does not have "the same stringent safety standards" as the FDA, according to University of Michigan pharmacy professor Duane Kirking, the Press-Enterprise reports. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spokesperson Jackie Cottrell called the trusts' program "a fairly dangerous proposition," adding, "We would hope the labor unions involved would not be putting the costs ahead of their members' health and safety" (Vitucci, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/19).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.