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Executive Summary

MEDICAID SHOULD RETAIN "FREEDOM OF CHOICE" PROVISIONS FOR Rx DRUGS, the Natl. Assn. of Retail Druggists (NARD) maintained in Aug. 15 comments on proposed legislation to cut Medicaid and Medicare expenditures. In a letter to Senate Finance/Health Subcmte. Chairman Durenberger (R-Minn.), who introduced the Health Care Planning & Cost Reduction Amendment on Aug. 1 at the request of the Reagan Administration, NARD Govt. Affairs Director John Rector wrote that independent pharmacists "strongly object to provisions" of the measure that would eliminate freedom of choice under Medicaid. According to the bill's summary, the Medicaid law's requirement that "recipients have freedom of choice in selection" of a health care provider would apply only "to mandatory services for the categorically needy." In addition, the requirement that a state Medicaid "plan be in effect throughout the state" would be amended by the legislation so that it would apply "only with respect to mandatory services to those groups the state is required to cover." NARD told Durenberger that both the Senate and House during the 1981 budget debates "concluded that freedom of choice for Rx drugs in the Medicaid program was essential." Noting that the senator, in introducing the bill, said he did "not agree with the package in its entirety," the assn. wrote: "We hope that you continue to share our view, as you did in 1981, as to the importance of freedom of choice," and "we urge you to support the retention" of the provision.

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