One More Way To Piss Off Teachers In An Election Year: Bad Medicine

March 11, 2014 16:53 pm

by George Chidi · 15 comments

Kyle Williams, candidate for State Senate, pictured left at a Cover Georgia rally today.

Kyle Williams, candidate for State Senate, pictured left at a Cover Georgia rally today.

I ran into a set of teachers at the capitol a few weeks ago who were protesting the state insurance plan. Their current plan appears to be pushing costs onto them, even as the state has been lagging in teacher pay.

To add fuel to the fire, an amendment to a drug bill added by Sen. David Shafer looks an awful lot like an end run around mail order pharmacy oversight … just as the state has been pushing teachers to use mail order pharmacies.

The bill — HB 965 — is intended to keep people who call 911 seeking treatment for a drug overdose from criminal prosecution. The public policy question seems sensible; people shouldn’t be reluctant to call an ambulance if they’re dying.

Shafer added an amendment last week that removes mail order prescription drug facilities from regulatory oversight by the State Board of Pharmacy. As it happens, the state’s insurance provider has been pushing teachers to use mail order drug providers as a cost saving device. 

Last year, Georgia changed the law to require nonresident pharmacy permits for “any person, pharmacy, or facility” located outside of Georgia that wants to “ship, mail, or deliver dispensed drugs, including but not limited to dangerous drugs and controlled substances, into this state.” The Georgia Board of Pharmacy was to oversee enforcement for those nonresident pharmacies, and after the effective enforcement date set by the Georgia Board, it would be unlawful for any unlicensed person, pharmacy, or facility to ship, mail, advertise or deliver prescription drug orders to Georgia residents.

If the amendment is adopted as it stands … not so much.

Kyle Williams, running for the state senate in Jason Carter’s former district, called out the effect of this change on teachers in a release earlier today. (I’m told his opponent missed the Cover Georgia rally … along with every other candidate.) “Without the oversight of the State Board of Pharmacy, mail order facilities will be able to send perishable prescriptions like insulin to patients without having to use safety measures to make sure the medication is not subject to extreme temperatures.  If a prescription is lost or damaged in delivery, a mail order facility could deny responsibility and charge full replacement costs.” The release is below the fold.

But the amendment also looks like an end-run around licensing requirements for out-of-state pharmacies.   

Kyle Williams Candidate for Senator District 42 Calls on Georgia Senate to Stop Playing Politics with Teachers’ Healthcare

On March 5, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee played politics with our health and welfare adding dangerous language to the Medical Amnesty Law – HB 965. As originally introduced, HB 965 provides immunity from certain arrests, charges, or criminal prosecutions for people seeking medical assistance for a drug overdose.  HB 965 was intended to remove the fear of criminal prosecution from calling 9-1-1 to seek medical assistance.  HB 965 as introduced was a good bill and would save lives – until politics interjected itself.

The language in the amendment offered by Senator David Shafer amended HB 965 to remove mail order facilities that ship prescription drugs completely from any regulatory oversight of the State Board of Pharmacy.  This change will have far reaching implications for anyone that receives their medications through the mail.

Without the oversight of the State Board of Pharmacy, mail order facilities will be able to send perishable prescriptions like insulin to patients without having to use safety measures to make sure the medication is not subject to extreme temperatures.  If a prescription is lost or damaged in delivery, a mail order facility could deny responsibility and charge full replacement costs.

This amendment will have devastating impacts on our teachers and state employees because under the new benefits plan their insurer aggressively pushes its members to exclusively fill their prescriptions through these mail order facilities.

My mother works as an education assistant at a public school. As Chair of the Decatur Education Foundation, I know firsthand that we must make sure that we respect our school teachers and state employees. These public servants must have benefit packages that allow them to stay healthy and make plans for the future, not expose them to greater health risks and increased costs for prescription medicines. This is my priority. I encourage you to speak out against this bad amendment.  Please call the Chairman of Senate Rules, Senator Jeff Mullis to express your concerns about the amendment.

The Senate should not play politics with our health and saving lives by tacking on dangerous amendments that will hurt teachers and state employees. If elected as Senator, District 42 can count on me to be a passionate voice and advocate putting the health and welfare of teachers and state employees above politics. I get it.

Bettie Page March 11, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Kyle is the only candidate that District 42 can count on to protect public education. Thank you Kyle!

Harry March 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm

So the education lobby tries to eliminate a healthcare reform that would untie consumers from the quasi-monopoly pharmaceutical industry and save everyone – taxpayers and consumers – substantial money. Another fine example of unenlightened special interests at work, cooperating to screw us all. This is why these so-called educators and educational administrators are viewed as increasingly irrelevant and too expensive to the needs the community aka tax slaves who pay their keep.

rrrrr March 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

One could ask what an amendment concerning mail order pharmaceuticals is doing attached to a “911 ambulance amnesty bill”?

Unless the common thread is “to decriminalize” screwed up prescription service.

(Although as much as some of these medications cost, it could be argued that they should probably be dispatched by 911 via ambulance free of charge.)

Or how government could give amnesty, err -decriminalization as we continuously hear that they DON’T ad nauseam…

But anyone with personal hands on experience with the current state of affairs relating to SHBP – read someone that has to actually work with it pay for medical supplies – knows
( right down to the questionable bidding process/selection – now or recently in court) that it’s a mini me Obama Care. Right down to changes after the opt out date – if it changes, why can’t the rank and file be released?

It was, however, good of the Governor to see to the return some of those prior year surplus funds that were transferred out to the general fund…

Returning them in an election year…
Seems some may really believe teachers can’t add 2+2

saltycracker March 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

It is routine that benefit programs covering prescriptions offer a link to a mail order at a reduced co-pay like CVS Caremark. Got no problem with the state licensing but don’t follow the post of a focus on teachers and their inability to select a legit mail order business. Making noise not for education but pandering to public employees ?

George Chidi March 11, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I started in on this from the perspective of teachers in part because that’s how it came to me. The teacher-insurance thing seems to be emerging as a meaningful issue.

I have no problem with mail-order prescriptions. Whatever works, and less money for the same thing is better. I do have a problem with unregulated prescription services — I mean, really, man, the whole caveat emptor ethos should probably stop when you’re talking about medicine, unless we want a return to honest-to-goodness snake oil sales.

Harry March 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Snake oil? That’s a cop out and you know it. It’s easy to find out who are the legitimate vendors.

saltycracker March 11, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Glad you scrambled back to more solid ground.

Harry March 12, 2014 at 10:24 am

An analogous situation in New Jersey involving the auto dealer middlemen’s lobby
http://www.businessinsider.com/how-tesla-got-outspent-and-outgunned-in-jersey-2014-3

saltycracker March 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm

And it is as hard to get rid of a bad auto dealer as a bad teacher, both very difficult to do.

jchambers1645 March 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I am an educator! If this were to pass then it would be a price difference of $400 a month for one prescription if I could not use mail order. Our insurance forces us to use mail order or pay this ridiculously huge penalty.

Harry March 12, 2014 at 10:41 pm

I’m missing something. The insurance forces you to use mail order even when an item or generic substitute isn’t available? That would seem to just be a matter of the association needing to strong arm the carrier. I can’t imagine they could get away with leaving you high and dry on a prescribed med.

saltycracker March 13, 2014 at 7:55 am

Maybe this will help….

http://dch.georgia.gov/state-health-benefit-plan-shbp

Then click on Express Scripts

Harry March 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

Yeah but I’m not registered. Do they have an online FAQ?

saltycracker March 13, 2014 at 10:42 am

I was responding to the “teacher” as the post read a bit strange, as you noted…..there is a FAQ link you could access if so inclined

Harry March 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll leave it to the educators to noodle the big picture.

Comments on this entry are closed.