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Know Your Rights
Source: Associated Press
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

Gov. Cuomo signs prescription bills into law

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Health insurers in New York will no longer be allowed to require policy holders to have their prescriptions filled by mail under a bill signed into law Tuesday that is considered win for local drug stores and for immigrants.

The law approved by the Legislature earlier this year was signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It would require prescriptions filled by the local pharmacy to cost no more than the mail order prescriptions some health insurers prefer. Cuomo also signed into law a measure that requires fertility drugs to cost the same whether purchased at a local pharmacy or by mail order.

Strong lobbies for pharmacies have sought the change after insurers started encouraging or requiring policy holders to use mail-order pharmaceutical companies.

“Both of these bills seek to improve consumer convenience,” Cuomo wrote in his approval message. But he secured agreements from the Senate and Assembly to approve amendments that require retail pharmacies to agree to accept the same reimbursement rate and terms and conditions created for mail-order pharmacies.

“Access to community pharmacies plays a significant role in the delivery of quality health care in working class and Latino neighborhoods,” said Theo Oshiro, director of health advocacy for Make the Road New York. “Independent pharmacies in Latino neighborhoods speak fluently to their Latino customers. The same holds true in Chinese, Russian and other ethnic communities throughout the city. This added value would be lost for persons forced to use mail order pharmacies.”

Express Scripts, a company in the mail-order pharmacy business, said Cuomo’s stipulations are essential.

“While we still believe that a veto would have better served New Yorkers, the amendments agreed upon today will help to keep the cost of prescription drugs for small businesses and consumers from dramatically increasing,” said Jonah Houts of Express Scripts.

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