Are you affected by the CVS Walgreen’s fight?
Update- Blue Cross estimates the clash between CVS and Walgreen’s will affect 24,000 of its members. Around 23,000 will lose their ability to buy medications at Walgreen’s on July 9th and 1,000 are medicare recipients who will notice the change at the beginning of next year.
Blue Cross is asking CVS to send a letter to every member that currently use Walgreen’s with a list of the three closest non Walgreen’s pharmacies. Regardless of whether CVS is the closest pharmacy, it will be listed as the last option, so it doesn’t appear that CVS is getting special treatment. The letters should go out within the next week.
A spokeswoman for Blue Cross says it’s an issue the health plan is watching closely.
The Wall Street Journal says Walgreen’s might be able to honor some prescription plans after July9th.
Why? Walgreens and CVS/Caremark got into a fight.
So, for example, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBSRI) uses Caremark to process and pay for all of the medications for its members. Caremark also updates which drugs BCBSRI will and won’t pay for.
The problems came when CVS and Caremark merged. The National Community Pharmacists Association has been complaining for a long time that the two working together was a conflict of interest. They say Caremark started to make it more attractive for members to fill their prescriptions at CVS than at other pharmacies.
It seems Walgreen’s has a similar complaint. Last week it announced it won’t be renewing any of its plans with Caremark or accepting any new plans either. Walgreen’s said Caremark was forcing patients with chronic conditions to get their drugs through the mail from CVS. It also said it’s not being reimbursed enough for some medications.
CVS/Caremark responded by pulling the plug on the Caremark plans at Walgreen’s before they could expire. On June 9th, they gave patients 30 days to find a new pharmacist.
There have been some mumblings that CVS/Caremark and Walgreens might make up. But if they don’t, some Blue Cross Blue Shield members will be looking for a new pharmacy.
Does this change affect you? Let me know.