Pharmacies Deal With Medicaid Mess

Friday afternoon a federal judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order for Medicaid cuts, which went into effect October first. But it's unclear exactly what that means to 48,000 people dropped scheduled to dropped from the program.

Right now Medicaid officials are researching what their next step will be. Federal Judge Henry Wingat put the TRO in place until an October eleventh hearing.

Wingate wants more information about how many people asked for appeals to keep Medicaid coverage or didn't get the information they needed to find out if they quailified for other programs.

Despite the judge's order, pharmacists had no choice Friday morning but to abide by the cuts as scheduled.

At Sartin's Pharmacy in Gulfport, Pharmacist Craig Sartin spent much of the day telling more than 30 people that Medicaid will no longer pay for their pills.

"We probably had 10 to 12 patients walk in this morning to present their bottles and couldn't get refills.  Then we have to tell them that their medication is $950 or $650 or whatever. It hurts us to have to do that."

One of those who got the painful news was Mary Lee, as she tried to buy medicine for a friend who is suffering from a collapsed lung.

Mary Lee said "When I got here, the lady told me that his Medicaid was stopped and I had to pay $133.18 for one dosage and $124 for another dosage. He can't afford that kind of medicine".

Betty Angrisano heard the same message when she tried to buy medication for her husband. She said "It's a sickening feeling because the medications he takes, he has to have them, and they exceed our income. But we have to trust in God and go from there".

That means from now on, people who have lost Medicaid benefits will have to make tough choices -- find alternative coverage or pay out of their own pockets. The choice no one wants is putting their health at risk.

Sartin said "Unless there's some changes that are made, I think that folks will directly get seriously ill and possibly die as a result of this. In all the years that I've been practicing pharmacy, I've never seen anything so detrimental to the health care of patients in the state of Mississippi as what we're going through right now".

Lee said "I'm upset and disgusted, because I didn't think Governor Barbour would do that to us sick folks, and there's a lot of us who need medication".

By: Trang Pham-Bui