Idaho’s Pharmacy and Dental Board Failed It’s Citizens
by Christian Schwab
As a local Sandpoint Idaho resident, one who is not so different from the other 1.6 million residents within the Idaho borders, I always been committed to helping my community in any aspect that my creator or my neighbors request of me. So, when I entered a local pharmacy on the cold evening of Jan 11th, 2016 and saw a group of local residents, ranging in ages from their 60’s to mid 80’s, sitting around waiting for what seemed forever. I noticed an older gentleman walk up to the counter and present his prescription drug card.
This is where my story goes from waiting for prescriptions to waiting for a miracle. Thomas, as with many others around me, presented his card, which Walmart is recognized through Health and Welfare as a Medicaid Approved Company. As with many others around me, it was not accepted. The pharmacist was so polite and with a gleam of hope said, “The contracts with Walmart and Super Drug for some insurers have not been signed with Health and Welfare, but the problem is being fixed”.
As a local reporter who is known for getting answers, I started my next day by placing a public request in to Bonner County Commissioner Glenn Bailey to look into it. After a couple days I found out through other sources that according to Jared Tatro, a Senior Budget and Policy Analyst with the State of Idaho, the pharmacy and dental board were merged as a group to implement a new RSP licensing system, one which uses the concept “a license is a license” and the boards would “work it all out”. But…
After 3 years of mishandling Contacts, License, and Protocols, Health and Welfare are willing to admit “they’re just not working out”.
All contracts with the vendors will come to an end this November. Though these two committees are the most problematic, all the committees seem to have issues.
Both board’s have since said they have looked at the vendor issue but have two different ideas to fix the problems. The pharmacy board decided to stay with the same vendor but hire a new full time employee to manage IT and “get to know what the pharmacy does” to bring both aspects together. This is costing taxpayers around another $73,000 annually.
This is not the only change. More will be announced soon, with an in line budget request where they will ask for another $250 million.
The Department consists of 14 employees and issues over 19,000 different licenses. The Dental Board which issues a minimum amount of licensing is using the approach ‘local can serve our residents needs better’ so they are looking at going with a vendor from Spokane Washington. Since the whole system will need to be uploaded into a new vendor database. The cost will commit Idaho voters to a 1 time fee of $80,000 which has been classified “emergency funding” so there is time for the new system to be tested.
JFAC, Idaho’s Joint Finance Appropriation Committee, is in charge of suggesting spending to be approved by both bodies, and the Governor. This incident is being seen by some members in the community as another failure of leadership.
From Health and Welfare, the JFAC committee, to Governor Otter, residents want answers for not looking into how Health and Welfare is spending these funds. Their budget consisting of 42% of Idaho’s general fund and is seen to local residents as an already overwhelming problem.
JFAC has since said, in a “unanimous” vote of support, they recommended the budget be reopened so they receive these funds in this budget cycle. Senator Shawn Keough, now chairing the Committee, is finding herself faced with a district which questions her every move, after voting for the failing Idaho exchanges, with donations to her campaign from numerous insurers, Pharma, and her affiliation with Molina Healthcare.