House GOP plans to reverse ‘corporate takeover’ of Ga. health care

House GOP plans to reverse 'corporate takeover' of Ga. health care

(WALB) - Republicans in the Georgia House of Representatives announced Tuesday that they plan to reverse what they call "corporate takeover" of Georgia health care.

The house majority revealed the plan after hearing testimony from both patients and providers in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Nikki Bryant owns an independent pharmacy with branches in both Webster and Randolph counties.

Bryant testified at the capitol.

She told representatives that many of her clients in rural Southwest Georgia are on Medicaid managed care.

But, Bryant said the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) who manage that care reimburse her for less than the costs she pays to fill the medications.

She said those PBMs make deals with corporate pharmacies, and Bryant believes that forces some of her customers to drive around 30 miles to the nearest chain to get their prescriptions.

“And who funds all of this? Me.” Bryant testified. “My tax dollars fund my own business out of business. Let me say that again: government contracts in this state, funded by my tax dollars work to put me out of business.”

Pharmacist Nikki Bryant testified to Georgia representatives Tuesday about how state law regarding health care has affected her.
Pharmacist Nikki Bryant testified to Georgia representatives Tuesday about how state law regarding health care has affected her. (Source: Georgia House of Representatives)

The House GOP said that new legislation they plan to introduce will give hundreds of millions of dollars back to patients who need care and health care professionals like Bryant.

That legislation would update a current law and it would close some loopholes and carve out prescription drug benefits from Medicaid.

Bryant said the current law is allowing for independent pharmacists to fail in Georgia.

"With the reimbursement the way it is, it's not enough to cover the cost of the provider and expenses that it takes to run a practice or a pharmacy," she explained.

House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement that lawmakers hope the new legislation will lower costs, empower patients and improve outcomes when it comes to health care in Georgia.

[ To read the House GOP’s full plans, click here. ]

Copyright 2020 WALB. All rights reserved.