Fee dispute between health insurance companies and pharmacies

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Protest actions by pharmacies in Saxony-Anhalt

There is no further agreement in sight in the fee dispute between pharmacies and statutory health insurance companies. Now the pharmacies in Saxony-Anhalt have also decided to protest. In the pharmacies of the city of Stendal and the district of Sangerhausen, only limited emergency care is offered on Wednesday afternoon, the State Pharmacists Association (LAV) Saxony-Anhalt reports in a current press release.

The protest action is intended to draw attention to the "disastrous financial situation of pharmacies - especially in rural areas", explained the chairman of the Saxony-Anhalt State Pharmacists Association, Mathias Arnold. "We need air to breathe and survive," continued Arnold. If the health insurance companies remain in their previous position in the negotiations, an expansion of the protest actions is also conceivable. With the campaign: "What health insurance companies take out is at the expense of your health", pharmacies also want to inform patients about what happens if the compulsory discounts that pharmacies have to grant to health insurance companies are not withdrawn. The state pharmacist associations see the "competent pharmaceutical advice on site by the pharmacy of trust massively endangered."

Pharmacies and health insurance companies have been arguing over the amount of the compulsory discount The fee dispute has been going on for weeks between the statutory health insurance companies and the pharmacists. The crux of the matter is the compulsory discount that health insurance companies receive from pharmacies for each prescription-only medication they dispense. The discount was originally 1.75 euros, but was raised by the legislature to 2.05 euros for the two years 2011 and 2012 due to the tight financial situation at the health insurance companies. The pharmacists' associations regard this increase as a temporary “special victim” and, in view of the current billions in surpluses from health insurers, are calling for the original 1.75 euros as a basis for negotiations. The statutory health insurers (GKV), on the other hand, consider the 2.05 euros as the starting point for the negotiations for 2013. Since no agreement seemed to be reached in the dispute over the advance payment amount, the German Pharmacists Association (DAV) and the statutory health insurers held the negotiations last week ended inconclusively. An arbitration commission will probably now have to determine the final discount.

Health insurance companies save pharmacies on the wall Pharmacies save health insurance companies "since the introduction of discount contracts in 2007," the state pharmacists' association of Saxony-Anhalt reports. The special sacrifice of 30 cents alone would result in savings of 200 million euros in the health insurance funds for around 600 million prescription drug packs sold. However, these were at the expense of pharmacies and patients, reports the LAV Saxony-Anhalt. The time-consuming discount contracts were fulfilled by the pharmacies without this being financially rewarded. Thus, the pharmacies not only have to accept the discount but also shoulder the additional personnel costs required as a result, complains Mathias Arnold. "After all, these contracts have significantly increased the need for advice in the pharmacy," continued the chairman of the LAV Saxony-Anhalt. "I can't understand why the cash registers want to save us on the wall despite billions of dollars in surpluses," explained Arnold.

Return to fair negotiations required Pharmacists are finally demanding that health insurance companies return to fair negotiations, because only fair remuneration can remedy the dilemma. The protests are also intended to inform local citizens about the situation of the pharmacies. So far, no noteworthy pharmacy closures have been observed in Saxony-Anhalt, but the situation is becoming increasingly narrow. Because the pharmacies are also subject to the laws of the market economy, explained the LAV Saxony-Anhalt. The pharmacy had made a sufficient contribution to eliminating the deficit at the health insurance companies in the past years, now in view of the accumulated surplus of 24 billion euros, the health insurance companies are on the move. "We still hope for a negotiated solution. If this does not work, a nationwide minimum supply is also conceivable, ”emphasized the LAV chairman Arnold. (fp)

Image: Siepmann H, Pixelio.de

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