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June 29, 2005

Medicaid Restrictions Blamed Elsewhere

Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida has recieved a lot of criticism as of late for putting restrictions on Medicaid drug limits. Bush blames Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company for refusing to negotiate for fairer prices with Florida.

"Florida's efforts to cut the $2.5 billion Medicaid prescription-drug budget comes in a new law that gives health officials authority to negotiate for lower prices. The law gives them the power to drop drugs from the state's approved list of medications for the 2.2 million Medicaid patients if prices aren't lowered. A list of state-approved drugs for the Medicaid program, replacing the current list of about 3,000 medications, will be released by the state's panel of pharmacists and doctors Wednesday and will go into effect early next month if it is approved by AHCA" (Hollis, 2005).

Advocates for the mentally ill are worried that this could leave many people with mental disorders unable to get the medications needed to stay stable. Bush insists that there are adequate and cheaper medications that they could switch to. In other words, generics. Generic drugs are bioequivalent to the brand name drug and are required to have the same active ingredient at the same strength as the brand name drug. Not necessarily a bad thing unless the drug you are taking does not have a generic form. But most commonly used drugs do.

Patients can still get the drugs that are not on the preferred drug list if their doctors explicitly document the necessity for the patient to receive certain drugs. Then it will be prescribed and they will be reimbured for the purchase of the prescription.

To go to the Medicaid website go to: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid/default.asp?

The source of this article was the Tallahassee Bureau, by Mark Hollis.

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