Pharmacy Squabble Could Affect Some Covenanters

CHICAGO, IL (October 27, 2011) – Unless last-minute negotiations produce a different outcome, effective January 1, Walgreen pharmacies will no longer be part of the Express Scripts network that covers all Bethany Benefit Service medical enrollees, which include Evangelical Covenant Church pastors, missionaries, and employees of Covenant offices and some affiliated entities.

This means that Walgreen will no longer fill prescriptions as part of the Express Scripts program beginning January 1. Express Scripts is the pharmacy benefit manager on behalf of the Bethany Benefit Service medical program.

Walgreen and Express Scripts have been unable to reach agreement on a new prescription reimbursement rate structure – Walgreen is seeking a higher reimbursement rate for filling prescriptions than Express Scripts has been willing to offer, according to published reports.

In support of its demand for a higher reimbursement level, Walgreen contends it provides special services to patients, helping them manage their prescriptions and advising them on proper dosages.

“Walgreen doesn’t deserve more money than other pharmacies for telling patients how to take them (medications),” responds a spokesperson for Express Scripts in a Wall Street Journal article. “If Express Scripts did agree to pay more, Walgreen would become its most expensive pharmacy, raising client costs for essentially doing the same thing as everyone else.”

In a communication to its members, Express Scripts notes that access by patients to other retail pharmacies within the Express Scripts network will not be an issue. “On average, there is another network pharmacy within one-half mile of a Walgreen pharmacy,” the company notes. “Express Scripts will provide . . . the names and locations of convenient, nearby pharmacies if a new agreement with Walgreens cannot be reached.”

Express Scripts members account for about 90 million of the prescriptions that Walgreen fills each year, the newspaper article states. In the event an agreement is not reached and patients need to locate a different pharmacy, Express Scripts has provided a pharmacy store locator on its website.

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