Gov. Tom Corbett is fighting to make Pennsylvania a state where small businesses can flourish, create jobs, and provide important products and services to our citizens.
The governor’s recent signing of Act 207 of 2012, the Access to Community Pharmacy Services Law, is a big step forward in this effort, as well as a win for Pennsylvania consumers.
Pennsylvania is home to nearly 3,400 pharmacies. These local businesses keep our citizens healthy by dispensing prescription drugs and counseling customers to make sure they understand their medications, as well as making sure prescriptions can be taken safely in combination with other medications.
Pharmacists help make our state’s health care system work.
Containing health care costs is also an important public policy goal, but must be balanced with providing the best care possible. These two goals began to collide in recent years, as more and more health plans cut deals with large, mail-order pharmacy companies to provide prescriptions at reduced cost.
While good for consumers’ wallets and holding down insurance costs, this is not a good situation for consumers in terms of their health care and it is not positive for Pennsylvania’s economy.
Patients can’t talk to mail order pharmacies about individual health care concerns, such as whether a prescription should be taken with food. The mail order company doesn’t know whether the prescription will combine safely with the patient’s other medications.
For many people, just having the peace of mind that a trusted, local health care professional is concerned about their well-being makes all the difference. Earlier this year, a study showed that consumers, when costs are similar, prefer dealing with a local pharmacy over a mail-order firm by a four-to-one margin.
Pharmacies employ about 122,000 Pennsylvanians. These key, local businesses also buy supplies and services from other firms in their communities. Community pharmacies pay more than $1.1 billion a year in state and local taxes, supporting education, public safety, and other important services.
This is why Gov. Corbett supported and signed this law, so consumers can choose to get prescriptions at their local pharmacies. This issue had been debated in the Legislature for 15 years.
Finally, because Gov. Corbett understands how important this is to Pennsylvanians’ health care, and how important it is to keeping and creating jobs in our state, it is now law.
The legislation says simply health insurance plans, both private and government run, must provide the same benefits and costs for consumers to get prescriptions at local pharmacies, as they provide for those who use mail order pharmacies. Retail pharmacies must agree to accept, from the insurer, the same pricing and terms as mail order companies. If they do, local pharmacies can compete fairly for customers business.
This common sense law levels the playing field, which has been increasingly tilted away from our local pharmacies. The law protects consumers by requiring the same terms for both retail and mail order pharmacies, and keeps costs consistent for health plans as well.
Gov. Corbett is working every day to keep good jobs in Pennsylvania and make our state attractive for new businesses to locate. As our population ages, the need for pharmacies to provide access to prescriptions and health care advice that only local, trusted pharmacists can provide, will increase.
Gov. Corbett’s signing of this law says to Pennsylvania citizens he will continue to fight for the greatest choice in health care, while also keeping costs down. To the pharmacy industry, the governor’s ability to get this law passed says Pennsylvania welcomes your business and your jobs in our state.
Carol Aichele is the Secretary of the Commonwealth. She heads the Pennsylvania Department of State, which licenses pharmacists and 28 other professions in the state, including medical doctors, osteopaths, and nurses. The department licenses approximately 900,000 professionals.