Dongchunn Wang, WCRI

Eighteen states have enacted reforms that put limits on the expensive practice of doctors writing and dispensing prescriptions from their office. Here, Dongchunn Wang, an Economist at the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), reviews a WCRI study that exposes ways physicians go around the restrictions.

According to Ms. Wang, physicians are prescribing and dispensing drugs to their patients at their offices and getting paid higher prices than local pharmacies. “You won’t see this is a lot of places,” Ms. Wang says, “but in workers comp it is pretty prevalent.”  Eighteen states have made changes to reimbursement rules to cap payments made to physicians who dispense drugs.  The restrictions are designed to lower the price of the medicine patients pay.

In the recent study, the WCRI asks: “Are Physician Dispensing Reforms Sustainable?”  Ms. Wang acknowledged that the study was originally designed to look at the effectiveness of the physician-dispensing reforms.  While the WCRI found that the pricing reforms did lower the cost of prescriptions, physicians in Illinois and California found new ways to continue charging inflated prices compared to local pharmacies.

Ms. Wang says the report “raises questions about (the) effectiveness and sustainability of the recent reforms on physician dispensing.”  And while the report looked at problems in California and Illinois, if reforms are not addressed, problems could spread to other states.  After the report was released, Ms. Wang says policyholders and stakeholders began to look into the issues in order to find solutions

For a copy of the WCRI study “Are Physician Dispensing Reforms Sustainable”, visit the WCRI website.

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