WWAY TV 3
A local pharmacist had to close his doors after 13 years in the business. He blames it on the new Medicare prescription drug program.
We've known for months that the program is confusing for patients. It turns out it's confusing for pharmacists too. Many have dispensed thousands of dollars worth of drugs to find out they may never be reimbursed.
Randy Spainhour has been a pharmacist for 30 years and spent more than a decade running his own store, the Penslow Pharmacy in Holly Ridge.
He'd never had financial problems until the new Medicare prescription drug benefit went into effect.
"I was getting no money," Spainhour said.
Reimbursements for prescriptions Mr. Spainhour had been filling for years were suddenly being rejected.
Where there used to be about a dozen companies that handle Medicare there are now over 100, and each has its own set of rules for coverage.
Mr. Spainhour says the large chain pharmacies like CVS and Eckerd have more resources to fight for reimbursements. It's the small, family-owned pharmacies like his that are suffering the most under this new government program.
"It was overwhelming because I was by myself. It took me an hour to collect one."
When all was said and done Mr. Spainhour dispensed more than $50,000 worth of prescription medicine that he may never be reimbursed for. And he had to close his doors to devoted customers like Wilbur Hines.
Mr. Hines said, "I don't know what's going to happen to a lot of old people. The people who helped build this country and make it what it is are being left to die."
Recent studies estimate that a third of all pharmacies nationwide could go out of business within a year.
With his store closed Mr. Spainhour is now having to make ends meet, working for somebody else.
Congressman Mike McInytre is aware of Mr. Spainhour's situation. He's taking the issue to Capitol Hill to talk to Medicare and Medicaid officials.