Wednesday the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved SB 662, a bill designed to cap the exorbitant prices currently charged by drug repackagers and their dispensing physician allies. It passed 10 to 1, with only Senator Joe Negron voting against. It now moves to the Health Policy Committee.
Assuming it clears the Health Policy Committee, it then must traverse the Appropriations Committee to make it to the floor for a full vote. That step could be a potential roadblock for this bill, as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee is not a fan. Who is that? Why that would be Senator Joe Negron.
Senator Negron is no stranger to physicians or the healthcare industry. Well, he certainly takes enough money from them, anyway. Records show between October of 2010 and November 1, 2012, of the 1,667 donors reported by Negron, 23% list their occupation as being physician, pharmaceutical or healthcare related. Those 383 donors contributed $176,400 to his campaign in that period, accounting for 25.5% of his overall donations received.
That number does not include PAC's, consultants, or people who did not list an occupation, any number of whom could be tied to the repackaged pharmaceutical industry.
By contrast, 20 insurance companies donated a paltry $9,750 to his campaign. With his “Nay” vote on the Banking and Insurance Committee, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where his allegiances lie.
Proponents of physician dispensing continue to insist that doctors who dispense provide superior, more immediate care. That argument, lubricated with liberal doses of their money, has been easily swallowed by certain leaders in Tallahassee. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. As we recently reported here, a study just conducted by CWCI shows that in California patients of dispensing physicians heal more slowly, take longer to return to work, and have much greater medical and benefit costs than those patients who are treated by non-dispensing physicians.
It is a fact that Senator Negron needs to pay attention to, whenever he is finished balancing his campaign checkbook.
I should also mention California capped their prescription costs to average wholesale prices a number of years ago, and despite dire warnings that physicians would stop dispensing, they did not. From the stats maybe we should hope they would, since the CWCI study also shows that they somehow managed to INCREASE their already substandard disability times and benefit costs after the caps went into effect.
Silly dispensing doctors….. But I digress.
The issue today, here in Florida, is the outrageous costs of physician dispensed repackaged drugs. SB 662 simply stops the rape of captive payers, whose costs are ultimately passed to all consumers in Florida. Senator Negron may get a lot of health related donations, but he clearly doesn't get that simple fact.
Floridians should call his office today and ask why that is - (850) 487-5032.
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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