Should you worry about the fact that economic crisis is being used as a way to nationalize health care?
I think that’s a yes!
Last week, the U.S. House of Representative passed H.R.1 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the $819 billion so-called “stimulus” bill. As Peggy Noonan opined in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, it’s “a big, messy, largely off-point and philosophically chaotic piece of legislation.”
There’s some good news for the pharmacy industry buried in Section 3003 (“Temporary Optional Medicaid Coverage For The Unemployed”) of this pork-laden monstrosity.
Most notably, Medicaid is now available to Americans (and their families) who lost their jobs anytime since July 2008 and anyone who will lose their jobs by January 2011. States are prevented from imposing income limits on beneficiaries in most cases. I guess that the states won’t mind because the Federal government will reimburse states for the more than 1 millions new enrollees.
I don’t know whether this unexpected Medicaid expansion will survive into the final version of the stimulus bill. But if it does, it will help further insulate pharmacies and the pharmaceutical industry from the downturn. Medicaid margins are relatively robust compared to private insurance. (See Pharmacy Profits and Wal-Mart.) Plus, the uninsured have much more trouble paying for drugs. If losing their jobs also meant losing insurance (and they can’t or didn’t use COBRA), then Medicaid provides a cushion.
On the plus side, we have free Doritos in the office today.