HARTFORD — Gov. Jodi Rell announced on Friday that her administration will investigate a possible price increase by Rite Aid Pharmacy.
The review into a possible increase of prescription drug prices at the pharmacies after the drugstore chain made key changes to its customer Rx Savings discount program by erroneously claiming that the higher prices and reduced benefits were required by a new state law.
“I sincerely hope that Rite Aid is not using a state law – one that is actually designed to provide cost-savings for all its customers – as an excuse to raise prices. If so, it amounts to a modern day bait-and-switch and Rite Aid is not being honest with consumers. I strongly urge Rite Aid to reconsider these changes,” Rell said.
The law in question is Section 17 of Public Act 10-179, which requires Connecticut pharmacies that offer discounts and savings to the general public to provide those same discounts and savings to individuals on Medicaid. The law was part of the broader budget adjustment legislation passed by the Legislature in May.
Several Rite Aid stores have posted signs indicating that because of the new law Rite Aid “is required to modify the benefits available under the Rx Savings Program,” according to a press release.
“The problem is not the law, the problem is the way Rite Aid is reacting to the law by penalizing customers through changes in its discount program, ostensibly to avoid across-the-board discounts to Medicaid and the general public,” Rell said.
The Governor directed the Department of Social Services to work with the Attorney General’s Office to review the legality of the changes in Rite Aid’s discount program. She’s asked DSS officials to meet with Rite Aid representatives to seek immediate reversal of changes in Rite-Aid’s savings program that negatively affect Connecticut consumers.
Earlier this month, Rell announced that CVS Caremark – which was considering ending its Health Savings Pass pharmacy discount program – informed her that the program will continue. The company’s decision came after the governor wrote company officials in June questioning whether canceling the discount program might be an attempt by CVS to avoid complying with a new state law that requires pharmacies to give patients using taxpayer-funded Medicaid the same savings given to the public.
“Just as I am grateful that CVS opted to join the pharmacies in Connecticut that are participating in this program, I expect that Rite Aid will decide to conform to the spirit and purpose of the law by restoring its pharmacy discounts,” Governor Rell said.