Isles could join federal
drug-buying program

Associated Press

WASHINGTON >> The federal government approved a joint drug-buying program yesterday between six states, including Hawaii, that has saved millions of dollars in prescription costs, a decision that could lead other states to form similar agreements.

It could save the state "maybe $9 million right off the bat" if it realizes the 10 to 15 percent discounts experienced by the other states, Gov. Linda Lingle said. "What that means is $9 million that can help others who don't have insurance to get insurance."

Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, Nevada and Alaska are participating in the program, and Hawaii has applied to join it, said Mark McClellan, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The program requires states to adopt a list of drugs that doctors should use when treating low-income Medicaid patients. States then bargain for discounts on the drugs.

Drug companies, which have fought Michigan's program in court, said the decision will harm Medicaid patients. "This effort will likely turn the vital Medicaid program for our poorest citizens into the equivalent of a government-run HMO, making decisions based on cost rather than patients' individual needs," said Wanda Moebius, of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson defended the program, saying lowering the cost of drugs will help states provide medications to low-income citizens.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --