John Johnson, Warren, Minn., letter: ‘Big box’ pharmacies can ease seniors’ painThe most cost-effective Medicare Part D plan is available in 49 of the 50 states. The one where it’s not available is North Dakota.
By: John Johnson,
WARREN, Minn. — Recently, I had the experience of exploring Medicare plans, including the prescription-drug program known as Medicare Part D.
For my Part D component, the least expensive plan would cost $15.10 per month and would be offered in conjunction with a pharmacy in one of the “big box” retail chains. This was an enticing option that I seriously considered; unfortunately, it’s not available to North Dakotans who are in Medicare because North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t let Target or Wal-Mart own and run their own pharmacies.
So, the most cost-effective Medicare Part D plan is available in 49 of the 50 states. The one where it’s not available is North Dakota.
The North Dakota Pharmaceutical Association and its members have lobbied long and hard to protect themselves from the “big box” stores.
Talk about self–serving: What did the pharmacists think was happening to North Dakota’s growing number of senior citizens, many of whom are on limited or fixed incomes?
The association argues that local pharmacies would be run out of business by the retail giants. But this has not happened in neighboring Minnesota , South Dakota or Montana.
There are many Part D plans available, but some North Dakota pharmacies offer only those that maximize their own profits. One resident said his 90-day prescription supply from a North Dakota pharmacy cost him more than four times as much as it would at a big box pharmacy.
The North Dakota Legislature has knuckled under to the association’s intense lobbying and refused to change this law. Even the North Dakota AARP has failed to endorse a change, even though that change would benefit many AARP members.
Those calling for change have secured enough petitions to place this issue on the ballot next year. Here’s hoping voters will bring North Dakota into the 21st century on this issue.
By the way, I did not choose that lowest-cost plan for my Part D coverage. Instead, I chose another plan offered by my local pharmacy.
You see, I live in Minnesota, so I did have that choice.