Governor Tom Vilsack says it’s time for the state to force the big drug companies to offer discounts to Iowa seniors. Vilsack proposes a law that would bar pharmaceutical companies from selling their products in Iowa if they do not offer discounted prescription drugs to Iowa senior citizens. Vilsack says the move should be made since no federal Medicaid prescription drug benefit appears on the horizon. He says since Congress and the Administration don’t seem to be able to take action, it is up to the states, just as they did with welfare reform. Vilsack says under the plan, Iowa seniors would pay the discounted rate for their drugs. The pharmacy would handle the claims for the rebate from the drug company.Last year, an “Iowa Priority Choice” program was established for Iowa seniors and the state’s pharmacists agreed to offer all customers over 65 the discounts pharmacies give patients who’re on government-run Medicaid. But just three of the 20 predominant pharmaceutical companies extended the rebates they give Medicaid to all seniors. Vilsack says since the pharmaceutical companies balked at the voluntary approach, it’s time to force their hand.Vilsack says the drug companies have been taking the money of senior citizens in Iowa and across the country and reaping “phenomenal” profits. Maine has implemented the kind of discount drug system Vilsack proposes. Drug companies have challenged Maine’s law, and have appealed all the way to the Supreme Court after losing in lower level courts.
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