Arkansas lawmakers review new rule to regulate PBMs

Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday reviewed a new rule with the state's insurance department that regulates PBMs, which are blamed by many pharmacists for drastic cuts to their reimbursement rates. "We want to be here," said Lyn Fruchey, the owner of Freiderica Pharmacy and Compounding in Little Rock. "We want to take care of our patients.

Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday reviewed a new rule with the state's insurance department that regulates PBMs, which are blamed by many pharmacists for drastic cuts to their reimbursement rates. "We want to be here," said Lyn Fruchey, the owner of Freiderica Pharmacy and Compounding in Little Rock. "We want to take care of our patients. We want to provide the level of care and service that they're used to. We're just fighting tooth and nail to be able to do that." Fruchey said the issue culminated January 1 when Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield began contracting with CVS Caremark as its PBM. "It's just gotten to the point of being unbearable," he said. Fruchey has had to cut hours, while other pharmacies have had to close their doors. The Arkansas legislature passed a new law during a special session in March that the proposed rule works to administer. To regulate nearly all aspects of PBM activities, testified Booth Rand, a managing attorney for the insurance department, would require PBMs to pay a $1,000 licensing fee and a $1 million cash surety bond. The state's insurance commissioner would review PBMs' reimbursement programs to make sure the rates for pharmacists are fair. PBMs and insurers would also track data for potential violations. The rule takes effect on January 1, 2019.