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Money buying bad policy – the Hawai’ian version

Florida appears poised to restrict overcharging for physician dispensing of repackaged drugs to workers comp patients, so dispensing companies are looking for greener pastures.
One that looks promising indeed is Hawai’i, where physician dispensing exploded onto the scene last year, with several physician offices jumping into the business. And these docs didn’t start out slowly; no, they enthusiastically entered into this new opportunity to “improve patient care and increase compliance” by prescribing and dispensing drugs to large numbers of workers comp patients. It is unclear whether this desire to improve patient care and increase compliance led these physicians to dispense drugs to their Medicare and group health patients; hopefully some enterprising legislators or reporters in the Aloha State will find out.
Outside of the palm trees, sandy beaches, and salutary climate, there are some eerie parallels between Florida and Hawai’i, specifically the early and aggressive lobbying – and political contributions – of companies and individuals profiting from physician dispensing.
We’ll focus on one individual in particular – Sen. Clayton Hee, a Democrat. Sen Hee happens to be Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee Chairman. That would be the Committee where a bill intended to cap the costs of physician dispensed drugs was tabled (and effectively killed for that session).
Hee raised more money than any of his colleagues during the six-month filing period ended Dec. 31, raking in $68,800.
More than half ($38 grand +/-) came from individuals and entities affiliated with, related to, employed by, or clients of “physician dispensing technology company” Automated Healthcare Solutions.

You’ve got to admire AHCS’ bipartisanship; Hee is an avowedly liberal Democrat, while AHCS’ contributions in Florida have gone to very conservative Republicans.
The $38 grand is peanuts compared to the $3 million spent by AHCS et al in an effort to keep their Florida business alive and prospering.
The bill has been “carried over” to this year’s session, and is currently making progress through the various committees. Unfortunately, it will end up before Senator Hee’s committee, where, in all likelihood, it will die for lack of attention. You can track the bill’s progress – or lack thereof — here.
What does this mean for you?
Physician dispensing of repackaged drugs is coming to your state, or more likely, is already there. If Florida caps the cost, you can be assured physician dispensing in your state is about to increase – by a lot.

One thought on “Money buying bad policy – the Hawai’ian version”

  1. Joe,
    Thank you for keeping the watch fires burning, and the pickets at their posts (that’ed be you…).

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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