A Virginia program that provides prescription medication to thousands of mentally ill patients is getting cut because of a shrinking state budget.
Closing the state pharmacy will save the state $800,000 by eliminating nine positions. The pharmacy obtained drugs at discount prices by participating in a national consortium. The pharmacy serves more than 3,300 patients a month.
But now the $13 million that the state spends on the medication will be sent directly to the 40 Community Service Boards that distribute the medication on a local level to patients who had been discharged from state mental hospitals and unable to pay for their prescriptions.
The local boards will have to source the medications on their own, and some are worried they won’t be able to achieve the same discounts obtained through the state program, according to an article in today’s Washington Post.
From the article:
Still, mental health experts and patients are watching with concern as the pharmacy, which was widely acknowledged as well-run and saved Virginia millions of dollars annually, is shut down.
“There’s no guarantee this is going to work,” said Mira Signer, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Virginia. “It’s a budget decision, not a policy decision. And that’s really unfortunate because you’ve got really vulnerable folks at the end of this. It’s just going to be a matter of time before someone falls through the cracks.”
The state pharmacy is scheduled to stop filling prescriptions Monday and close Jan. 1.
Some of the local boards have said they have been able to find better prices at Wal-mart than the state was paying through the national consortium, but said that the responsibility of procuring drugs will add to their administrative costs.