HHS approved for the first time a purchasing pool allowing states to band together to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs for their Medicaid programs. The five states involved in the pool are Alaska, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire and Vermont. As a result of the arrangement, the states' estimates show the savings will range from a low of $250,000 in New Hampshire to a high of $8 million in Michigan for 2004. Each state will maintain its own preferred drug list. The states are not required to offer prescription drug benefits through Medicaid but have elected to do so. The CMS said it soon will provide guidance to states interested in forming new purchasing pools or joining existing ones. -- by Tony Fong
HHS OKs five-state pool for Medicaid drug purchases
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