DSC 0008 1SACRAMENTO, Ky. (5/31/19) — On Dec. 28, 1861, Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest led between 200 to 300 Confederate cavalry troops against 500 Union troops led by Maj. Eli H. Murray near the small town of Sacramento. The outnumbered Confederate forces attacked, encircled and defeated the Union troops that had moved into the area after watering horses at the banks of Green River.

And, on May 30, 2019, a small, independent pharmacist again led a battle against a powerful foe from one of Kentucky’s smallest towns — Sacramento.

For months, Dr. Gregg Henry has been leading the fight against pharmacy benefit manager Caremark, which owns CVS pharmacies. He held a town forum Thursday night in the Sacramento Elementary School gymnasium.

During the rally, Henry accused Caremark of corruption along with other PBMs serving Kentucky. In a handout, Henry alleged, “…they are all crooked…even if some are less crooked.”

Other independent pharmacy owners attended the rally including Jiqua Wilson, who owns Wilson Family Pharmacy in Owensboro. She told SurfKY News that Caremark is stealing her patients.

“Caremark is forcing our patients to go to CVS or their online pharmacy. It is a conflict of interest,” she said.

Wilson explained that to do business in Kentucky, pharmacies must sign a contract with Caremark. In that contract, the independent pharmacy cannot solicit CVS patients, but Caremark/CVS can solicit the independent’s patients/customers.

Wilson said that Caremark is charging pharmacies new fees and increasing patient co-pays.

Bill Hamilton of Clinic Pharmacy added, “Independent pharmacies are not getting paid. We are on a downhill slide. Every year, it gets worse and worse.”

James William Jones Jr., a retired McLean County teacher, attended the rally. He said he is concerned about the cost of his medications. Jones said that he was overcharged using a mail order pharmacy. He said he is much more comfortable using a local pharmacy that knows him and knows about the other medications he takes.

Dr. Brad Ashby told the group that Medicaid pays $5 to the PBM on certain prescriptions and pays the independent pharmacies .45 cents.

“We cannot make it on 45 cents.” Ashby said.

Henry said Caremark is the PBM for Wellcare who manages Medicaid in Kentucky. During a five-week period, Caremark cut his reimbursements by $3,000. Henry alleges the cuts violate Senate Bill 5 passed in 2018.

“Not only what they are doing is unethical, it is criminal” Henry said.

Henry said the independent pharmacists are talking to Commissioner of Kentucky Medicaid Carol Steckel about the situation.

“We have met with the commissioner, and she is listening,” said Henry, who added he had a good feeling about this week’s meeting.

Thursday night, the three pharmacists said their payments dropped to $0 on some prescriptions from insurance/Medicare/Medicaid. All are reimbursed through PBMs.

SurfKY News has been in contact with the public relations firm working with Wellcare and Caremark and has submitted questions. As of this publication, there has been no response.

Ron Sanders
SurfKY News

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