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Insurance policy restricts rural pharmacies from refilling prescriptions – KXLY Spokane

Coeur dAlene

Digital Content Producer

SPOKANE, Wash. — A new policy by Kaiser Permanente is restricting its customer’s options to receive their medication.
The new policy states that after two refills, customers must order their medication through the mail or pick it up at Kaiser-based pharmacies.
For those living in rural communities, that can make it a bit more difficult when it comes to refilling prescriptions.
It’s a policy that took into effect at the start of the new year. Kaiser policyholders must either mail-order medication or pick it up in person at a Kaiser-based pharmacy. 
It quickly garnered the attention of pharmacists and policy makers in Washington.
“The biggest issue right here is the prescribers of KP will not have a choice, and I think that is wrong,” Representative Joe Schmick with the 9th Legislative District in Washington said.
Schmick represents Colfax, which is an hour away from the nearest Kaiser-based pharmacy.
Because of its location, many customers might have to rely on mail delivery services, which Schmick argues is an unreliable method when it comes to receiving life-saving medication like insulin or blood thinners.
“I don’t know how we can rely on something that’s inconsistent and often times it’s out of the post office’s control,” Schmick said. “It can be weather, it could be delays in trucking, it could be any kind of delay. But mail order is not reliable.”
The policy also eliminates the inconvenience of patients being able to obtain their medication through local pharmacies, which are poised to lose a high volume of customers.
“We’re not going to be here if we can’t continue to fill prescriptions for our patients on a regular basis,” Katie Johnson, a pharmacist at Tik Klock Pharmacy, said.
It prompted Schmick to co-sponsor House Bill 1253, which would give patients the freedom of choice when it comes to picking their pharmacy.
“I want the people to be able to have a choice in where they get their medications,” Schmick said.
Digital Content Producer

Vincent Saglimbeni joined the 4 News Now team full time in April 2022 as a digital content producer. Vinny grew up in San Jose, California before graduating from Gonzaga University in May of 2022, studying journalism and minoring in broadcasting during his four years there. In his final semester at Gonzaga, Vinny was the Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, The Gonzaga Bulletin. Before officially joining 4 News Now, Vinny spent the summer of 2021 interning with 4 News Now. When he is not in the newsroom, you can find him gaming, playing sports, throwing pizza dough and making pizza for his friends and family or cheering on/anxiously watching — depending on who you ask —  his favorite Bay Area sports teams (sorry, Seahawks fans). You can find Vinny on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Email him at [email protected] with any news tips!
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