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Jun 15, 2012 10:28 AM by AP

La. Medicaid pharmacy program changes in the works

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's state health department wants to add a pharmacy benefit to private insurance networks that are providing health care for much of the poor who receive coverage through Medicaid.

The Advocate reports that three health insurance entities paid a per-member, per-month premium for Bayou Health participants that will start managing the delivery of pharmacy services in their patients' care plans by the fall. Currently, Medicaid recipients' prescription drug coverage is handled through a state-run pharmacy program.

The Department of Health and Hospitals will hold six hearings around Louisiana this month to discuss the planned changes, which will effect hundreds of thousands of people in the managed care networks, primarily pregnant women and children.

Bayou Health - the state's new insurance-based health care system for the poor - was expanded June 1. The Jindal administration initiative involves insurance companies forming networks of physicians, hospitals and other provider responsible for coordination of health care.

"With the first phase of Bayou Health implementation complete, we now look to bring those same principles of coordination and better care management to our pharmacy benefits program," DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein said in a news release announcing the move.

Pharmacy services are the second largest expense in the Medicaid budget at nearly $950 million annually

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