Monday, April 24th 2023, 6:16 pm
Some Oklahomans are now forced to take more trips to the pharmacy and pay more for their prescriptions. Some CVS Caremark customers were notified that they could no longer get refills of their 90-day prescriptions because of a state law passed in 2019.
Today dozens of state lawmakers held a joint press conference to help clear up some of this confusion and ensure they’re working to give accessible and affordable healthcare to Oklahomans.
“We will not sit idly by and allow them to do this,” said Representative Jon Echols (R-OKC).
CVS has told Caremark customers in the state they can no longer refill 90-day prescriptions. The people running into this problem are employees whose headquarters aren’t in Oklahoma that use CVS caremark for their prescriptions.
“When you start lying to senior citizens about their ability to get their medicine, about their ability to pay for their medicine, then you drag someone who tries really hard not to be in the press room down to the press room,” said Senator Greg McCourtney (R-Ada).
In a joint press conference, over a dozen lawmakers shared their anger and concern over alleged “misinformation” CVS is sharing to customers about the reasons behind discontinuing 90-day prescriptions.
“The state of Oklahoma did not get rid of the ability to fill 90-day prescriptions. Anybody that says that is not misinformed, they don't misunderstand, they are intentionally lying to you,” said Rep. Echols.
Many people received a letter or email saying CVS couldn’t refill their 90-day prescription anymore because of a state law passed in 2019.
“There's no law against 90-days - there's no law against it, and you can save money especially on the consumer side with a lower copay,” said Rep. Marcus McEntire, (R-Duncan).
The law was actually meant to give Oklahomans the ability to get their prescriptions wherever they want- without extreme price markups. Lawmakers say that using a pharmacy benefit manager like Caremark, large pharmacies such as CVS may have been working towards monopolizing in the state, and shoving out smaller pharmacies.
“We are fighting for the people of Oklahoma to be able to get their prescription medicine when they need it and where they want to buy it,” said Sen. McCourtney.
Most of the frustration from lawmakers stems from the alleged “misinformation” spread by CVS and what they called “lack of accountability.” Lawmakers say CVS blamed the 2019 law, then blamed their prescription technology, among other things.
Lawmakers say this is simply a business decision by CVS to stop filling 90-day prescriptions.
“And a business making a business decision to not do it anymore- needs to own it,” said Rep. McEntire.
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready explains he’s been trying to work with CVS since the bill was passed almost 4 years ago.
“When I go to them to fix these issues, it's a technical and contractual issue with their employers. They tell me we can't fix that until next year,” said Mulready.
Now the insurance commission has taken legal action, threatening to suspend or revoke CVS’s license. The hearing to suspend or revoke CVS’s license is on May 25th.
“This is one of the largest companies in the world, hundreds of billion dollar company and you tell me you can’t put resources towards that to get that fixed quickly for Oklahoma consumers. I find that disingenuous at best,” said Mulready.
CVS Health said in a statement today they share the lawmakers commitment to protect Oklahomans' access to affordable prescription drugs, adding that they are working with commissioner Mulready to resolve the situation.
CVS Health full statement:
“We share the commitment of Commissioner Mulready and Oklahoma lawmakers to protecting Oklahomans’ access to affordable prescription drugs, and we look forward to continued dialogue with the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) and our clients to advance that shared goal.
“The OID recently determined that legislation enacted in 2019 is applicable to prescription benefits for certain multistate or national employers headquartered outside the state of Oklahoma. We have discussed with the OID our concerns about the impact changing uniform benefit design could have on consumers who rely on 90-day prescriptions. We continue to discuss this matter with the Commissioner and look forward to resolving this situation with OID to avoid any interruption to patient benefits and protect Oklahomans’ access to affordable prescription drugs.”
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