Valley pharmacists oppose Medicaid budget cut bill

It's what legislators are calling a cost saving measure for Medicaid, but some Rio Grande Valley pharmacists said it could put them out of business.

Senate Bill 23 is a lengthy bill with many parts, but independent pharmacists in Hidalgo County like Jesus Saenz are concerned about a specific portion of the bill.

Saenz said if the bill passes as is, the future of Saenz Medical Pharmacy looks dim.

Friday was a typical day at Saenz Medical Pharmacy.

Pharmacists filling presciptions, customers lining up for their medicine, but soon Jesus Saenz said that could all change for his business.

"There's going to be a lot of changes that I'm going to have to consider in order to function," said Saenz.

In Texas, pharmacies filling prescriptions for Medicaid patients deal directly with the state, but under SB 23, a third party is introduced, PBMs or Pharmacy Benefit Managers.

Saenz said he's afraid adding a third party in the mix could hurt independent pharmacies.

"It all depends with what kind of PBM we are going to get," he said. "They could say yes this is going to be covered no this is not going to be covered."

Legislators introduced SB 23 in an effort to save costs associated with medicaid.

Those in favor of PBMs said they improve savings, access and safety to consumers and payers by using e-prescriping and mail-service pharmacies.

Saenz said working with a PBMs could delay the time he gets re-imbursed from Medicaid.

Putting his business in a bind since 80 percent of his customers are Medicaid patients.

If the bill passes as is, Saenz said he fears that his business of filling prescriptions could be a thing of the past.

He said he may have to cut staff or stop home deliveries something Rosie Guerra is worried about because her elderly mother relies on Saenz Pharmacy to deliver her prescriptions in Los Ebanos.

"If these people that don't have any family close by or don't have anybody to get their medications, what's going to happen to them?" said Guerra.

Amendments have been suggested.

Some tossed out, others approved, but before the bill can move on, the legislature needs to hash things out.

Click here to see the Senate Bill 23