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Critics Pushing for Changes to Kansas' Prescription Plan

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 4:51am

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Claims that the company managing pharmacy benefits for state employees failed to offer the lowest possible prices on many drugs will be the subject of a Legislative committee hearing Monday.

A Washington-based organization representing labor union groups is raising the issue as the state's contract with CVS Caremark Corp. is on the cusp of expiring at the end of the year. The organization, called Change to Win, also said there have been similar questions about CVS plans in other states, including Illinois and Maryland.

CVS Caremark spokesman Jim Hughes defended the company, saying it saved Kansas millions of dollars and received high marks from plan members for customer service.

"We are confident they will see the real value of our services," Hughes said.

Hughes said the controversy was tied to a philosophical dispute over the proper approach to union balloting rather than pharmaceutical services.

Casey Cabalquinto, an organizer with Change to Win, said Change to Win's analysis indicated a person in a CVS Caremark retail discount program would pay less for 260 generic prescription drugs than workers in the Kansas State Employee Health Plan.

The Kansas Health Policy Authority, an agency administering state health programs, hadn't completed an independent review to examine the organization's claim, said spokesman Peter Hancock.

"Our concern is making sure we get the best deal we can," Hancock said.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Government Efficiency and Fiscal Oversight Committee said they supported exploration of complaints about CVS Caremark.

"If what is alleged is true, we're getting charged a bunch more than we should be," said Chairman Jim Morrison, R-Colby.

He set up the Monday hearing and a potential second day of debate Tuesday.

 

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