I know, you are as tired of reading about physician dispensing in work comp as I am writing about it. At last, there’s some very good news.
Quick refresher – docs dispensing drugs adds about a billion dollars in excess drug costs – plus increases disability duration by 10 percent, medical costs, and total claims costs. Dispensing docs also prescribe more opioids to more claimants.
Benefits? None, except huge profits to dispensing docs, dispensing companies, and their owners – we’re talking about you, ABRY. (investment firm that owns dispensing “technology” firm Automated Healthcare Solutions)
First up, a court case in Louisiana found in favor of the employer, as the 3rd Circuit upheld a workers’ compensation judge’s determination that a claimant would not be reimbursed for drugs dispensed by a third party pharmacy, in this case Injured Workers’ Pharmacy, when the employer had provided access to other pharmacies and otherwise complied with regulations. According to Troy Prevot, Executive Director of LCTA Workers’ Comp – “The result of this decision will allow us to continue to use retail pharmacies to control pharmacy cost by negotiating lower pricing thru PBMs” instead of paying much higher prices for doctor dispensed or third-party mail order drugs.
I’d add that LCTA’s victory will enable all other employers in Louisiana to ensure the clinical management of pharmacy is handled correctly by one entity.
Big news from Pennsylvania too – a bill (HB 1846) limiting physician dispensing duration and cost, and specifically targeting opioid dispensing, will become law (there’s some technical stuff going on, but it will happen). Among other things, the law will:
- limit doc dispensing to one initial 30-day script
- limit Schedule II and hydrocodone scripts to one 7 day script
- limit reimbursement to 110% of AWP (this is much less effective these days because dispensing companies are gaming the system)
- prohibit billing for OTC medications by physicians
There has been much heavy lifting here – kudos to AIA, the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania (the leader of the effort) PCI, the PA Chamber and CompPharma’s member PBMs (full disclosure I am president of CompPharma; the PBMs did the work).
This follows the good results in North Carolina – but all is not rosy, as Maryland and Hawaii employers and taxpayers are still stuck paying far too much for drugs and the crappy outcomes they deliver.
What does this mean for you?
Better outcomes for claimants, lower costs for employers and taxpayers!