Wednesday, October 23, 2019

New York Firefighters Association Cracks Down on Non-Fiduciary Pharmacy Benefit Managers

The 18,000 hardworking men and women represented by the New York Professional Fire Fighters Association work in departments across New York State and respond to more than a million calls each year, ranging from structure fires to multi-vehicle accidents and medical emergencies. Like all workers, these brave men and women feel the squeeze of rising health-care costs and the dangerous spike in prescription drugs.
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As a result, the New York State Professional Firefighters Association is urging Gov. Cuomo to immediately sign a bill that has passed both houses of the state Legislature that would prevent pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from using “utilization management” tools, such as step therapy and therapeutic (non-medical) switching programs, when used properly deliver the most cost-effective access to prescription drugs for diseases related to pain management and cancer.

Tyrone's Commentary:

Big mistake on the part of the firefighters association to say the least. For starters, a recent state Senate committee investigation found that a “lack of transparency” and weak oversight allowed PBMs to “engage in self-dealing to the detriment of consumers across New York State” without transparency or proper oversight. Second, CMS recently expanded step therapy so is CMS wrong? If I didn't know any better I would swear NY is stuck in a time warp insofar as managing pharmacy benefits.

If your wisdom tooth hurts every time you brush one doesn't stop brushing that eventually leads to more pain. You get the dang tooth pulled problem solved! The New York State Professional Firefighters Association is advocating to just stop brushing. Work with me here before you begin to pass judgment. You see PBMs generally rely on the demands of its clients for how much transparency they will provide. 

The contract was opaque and due to the association's lack of sophistication it couldn't see it. It would be nice if every PBM offered a fiduciary standard but they don't. Non-fiduciary PBMs are not contractually obligated to put its clients interests over their own no matter what the sales pitch or one-pager tells you. 

Eliminating drug utilization management tools, such as step therapy, will only serve to increase prescription drug costs for firefighters and other workers. Education is the solution to the problem. Get the darn wisdom tooth pulled! 

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