Over the past several weeks, Governor Bill Haslam and his staff have been hosting their annual budget hearings for Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016) at the Tennessee State Capitol Building. In preparation for these hearings, Governor Haslam requested that each Department prepare a budget which includes a 7% overall reduction in operating costs with respect to the FY2015 operating budget. This morning, TennCare presented its FY2016 proposed budget to Governor Haslam. TPA staff members were in attendance at today’s TennCare budget hearing, and noted several very important proposed cuts to the TennCare pharmacy program that TPA members should be aware of in preparation for the 2015 legislative session.
During the hearing, TennCare officials noted that overall spending on pharmacy within the program continues to increase, with the primary drivers for these spending hikes due to increasing costs for newly introduced innovator drugs (examples provided were Sovaldi® and Harvoni®) as well as the increasing costs for generic drugs (examples provided were doxycycline, albuterol sulfate tablets). TennCare also noted that the generic drug utilization rate for TennCare members remains at greater than 85%. Although not specifically noted by TennCare, this high generic utilization rate is due in large part to the diligence and efforts of pharmacists and pharmacy staff members.
Governor Haslam did note, as he closed the hearing, that these changes are only proposed cuts and have not been accepted as final changes. Clearly this will be a very high priority for TPA during the upcoming 2015 legislative session. TPA will continue to work on this important issue and provide TPA members with additional information and resources to use in discussions with elected legislators and members of the Governor’s administration regarding the impact these proposed cuts would have on patient care and access.
- To access an electronic copy of the TennCare FY 2016 Budget Proposal, CLICK HERE.
- To watch a replay of the full TennCare budget hearing, CLICK HERE. Pharmacy-related discussions begin at 23 minutes, 40 seconds.