WASHINGTON (KAIT) - A case involving the Arkansas pharmacy benefits managers law will finally be heard by the United States Supreme Court as the court starts its new year.
According to a post on the Supreme Court’s website, the justices will take up arguments Oct. 6 in the case.
Justices granted the right to hear the case back in January in the case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
The contentious issue was discussed at the state legislature and with pharmacists around the state. The pharmacists said in 2018 during a meeting in Little Rock that they believed PBM’s received more money in prescriptions than what pharmacists received.
Officials said PBM’s are the middleman between insurance companies and pharmacies on the prescription issue.
“When the fox guards the hen house, all sorts of games can be played and in Arkansas with the PBM’s, they have been,” then-Arkansas Pharmacists Association CEO Scott Pace told KARK. “They operate behind a curtain of secrecy.”
A law passed by the Arkansas legislature allowed the state’s Insurance Department to regulate and license PBM’s throughout the state, as well as permits the state insurance commissioner to look over and approve PBM compensation to pharmacies.
At the time, officials said the law would protect consumers and create debate on the issue.
Earlier this year, the Arkansas Pharmacists Association said in a Facebook post that the case will be a crucial one.
“The case is very importantly, both locally and nationally in the fight to regulate pharmacy pricing middlemen and increase PBM accountability for pricing policies that harm employers and more importantly, the health and well being of patients,” officials said in the post.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement in January that the issue has had an impact on rural pharmacies.
“Today is a victory for Arkansas and especially our rural pharmacies,” Rutledge said. “Pharmacy benefit managers need to be held accountable for the alarming number of small town pharmacies they have closed due to unfair business practices.”
The case was supposed to be heard earlier this year by justices, but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.