A temporary 10-day restraining order has been granted by Judge Kelly Balfour in the 19th Judicial District Court to block Louisiana’s Office of Group Benefits from entering into a $2 billion pharmacy contract with CVS Caremark.
As News Channel 5 reported back on Dec. 20, the contract would potentially impact over 200,000 state workers, including teachers and other state employees, on where they go to fill prescriptions and get vaccines. The contract was set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, despite continued opposition from lawmakers and pharmacists.
The complaints stemmed from independent pharmacies, especially in rural areas, saying they will take a financial hit and lose the state employees as customers due to what they called inadequate reimbursement rates listed in the contract. For example, Ray’s Pharmacy here locally claimed it would lose up to nine dollars for every prescription that is filled. This caused them to opt-out of the state contract.
For the pharmacies that chose to opt-out of the contract, it greatly affects the state worker customers, as they would have to find other big-box pharmacies to fill their prescriptions. District 28 State Senator Heather Cloud, one of many lawmakers against the contract, argued that in rural areas, big box pharmacies are few and far between, causing some customers to potentially have to travel over an hour to get their prescriptions filled.
There will be a hearing on Dec. 28 to consider whether the injunction will continue. Aside from the temporary restraining order, Sen. Cloud requested help from the state’s auditor to review the new pharmacy contract and see if it meets the provisions.
Reporter Dylan Domangue