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Judge allows state to cut Medicaid fees to pharmacists

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An Indianapolis federal judge has reversed the temporary restraining order she issued two months ago that stopped the state from cutting fees it pays to pharmacists for dispensing Medicaid prescriptions.

The decision Wednesday by U.S. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in the Southern District of Indiana follows more comprehensive briefing and arguments held in August. She overruled the judgment issued a week after the lawsuit was filed July 1.

As plaintiffs, the non-profit Community Pharmacies of Indiana and Williams Brothers Health Care Pharmacy in southern Indiana challenged a new state policy requiring a 38 percent cut in the Medicaid pharmacy-dispensing fee; meaning pharmacies would receive $3 instead of $4.90 for preparing and dispensing any particular drug under the Medicaid program.

Judge Pratt granted a temporary restraining order against the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration and its Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning on July 8 until the briefs and court arguments could provide more of the legal theory behind the case.

In her 24-page order Wednesday, Judge Pratt noted that the plaintiffs’ overarching argument has remained the same: that the fee reduction is a violation of state and federal law and would cause irreparable harm, because many pharmacies will have to seriously reevaluate whether they can afford to continue offering Medicaid services as they had and some would be driven out of business.

“The State counters that these apocalyptic scenarios are purely speculative, and, in any event, the Fee Reduction complies with state and federal law,” she wrote. “While the Court certainly sympathizes with Plaintiffs, the State’s position best aligns with the law at this stage of the proceedings.”

Judge Pratt noted that it’s “not to say the Plaintiffs are crying wolf,” and indeed “their dire predictions may, but hopefully will not, morph into reality. Regardless, at this stage, the Court simply has more questions than answers when it comes to the Fee Reduction’s further impact on the availability of Medicaid services.”

Judge Pratt reversed the TRO and denied the request for a preliminary injunction. No further hearings have been scheduled as of the date of the order, according to the federal court’s docket. The case is Community Pharmacies of Indiana, et al v. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, et. al., No. 1:11-cv-00893.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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