Florida Gov. Bush Proposes Restricting Medicaid Beneficiaries’ Access to All But Least-Expensive Drugs
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) last week while announcing his state spending recommendations proposed a plan that would replace the state's "preferred drug list" for Medicaid beneficiaries and require residents in teh program, including HIV-positive people, to receive "the least expensive but still proven effective" drugs, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Currently, many drugs to treat HIV/AIDS are exempted from the preferred drug list, a system in which the state negotiates with pharmaceutical companies to get a reduced price on a drug in exchange for putting it on the list. The state also allows Medicaid beneficiaries to obtain no more than four brand-name drugs per month. However, Bush advisers say the new plan will apply to all medications, including AIDS drugs. State health officials said that under the proposed plan only one or two drugs per class of medications -- regardless if they are brand name or generic -- would be available for Medicare beneficiaries in most cases. Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Alan Levine said the state has "little choice" about whether to cut Medicaid drug spending, which according to state work papers has risen by an average of 31% over the past four years, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Bush's new proposal could save the state "hundreds of millions" of dollars, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The proposal has "alarm[ed]" HIV/AIDS advocates, who are concerned that newly approved drugs -- which are often very expensive -- will not be included on the list, the Sun-Sentinel reports (Hollis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.