How free COVID-19 vaccines could be affecting pharmacies' finances

Many community pharmacies are still struggling to get reimbursement for the COVID-19 vaccines they administer and are incurring losses that could adversely affect their bottom lines, according to a March 12 NBC News report.

More than 40,000 pharmacies have joined the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, and a large number of those pharmacies are community pharmacies.

Pharmacists who work at these small locations told NBC News billing insurers for vaccinations is often more work than it's worth. It means they have to take on the time-consuming task of navigating different insurance companies' bureaucratic processes, which vary greatly, during a time when they are already overwhelmed.

"There’s been variability in reimbursement and more rejected claims," Anne Burns, the American Pharmacists Association’s vice president of professional affairs, told NBC News. "And at the end of the day, the important thing is that pharmacies get paid for delivering the vaccine and there's not a significant lag time in getting there."

Washington, one of the states whose Medicaid program reimburses at lower rates than Medicare, approved a measure to add $20 to its COVID-19 vaccine reimbursement rates. Minnesota lawmakers have also introduced a bill to boost its rate to the federal level, according to NBC News.

More articles on pharmacy:
100 million Americans will likely be vaccinated by early April, former FDA chief says
Eli Lilly says its COVID-19 antibody cocktail reduces hospitalization, death risk by 87%
Pfizer vaccine blocks 94% of asymptomatic cases in Israeli study

 

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