Local News

Proposed Medicaid Changes Could Leave Towns Without Pharmacies

Posted February 17, 2006

— Bobby Wheeler has filled prescriptions in his family-owned pharmacy, Creedmoor Drug, for more than two decades.

"I can walk in here, and he knows my mom and he knows my dad," said regular customer Steve Kirby.

"I always tell anyone I wait on, 'If you need me, call me," said Wheeler, who said he's come in to fill prescriptions at all hours of the night.

But Wheeler worries a proposed change in Medicaid reimbursements could mean he'll have to call it quits. Medicaid patients make up 35% of his business, and Wheeler estimates he'd lose $2-$4 a prescription.

"They don't seem to understand that what's saving them money is running me out of business," said Wheeler.

Wheeler said state and federal politicians need to pay more attention to small businesses. Creedmoor Drug is the only pharmacy in town. There is a chain drugstore about six miles outside of town, but regulars like Lucille Morgan aren't sold on it.

"You go over there, you feel like a customer -- you're not a friend," said Morgan.

Morgan is a regular at Creedmoor Drug for other reasons

"This is the only (drugstore) that has a good place to sit down, have coffee and catch up with everybody," she said.

Wheeler may have to put emphasis on selling things other than prescription drugs if he wants to stay open. But, that's hard to do when pharmacy sales make up 75 percent of his business.

Either way, Wheeler said a Medicaid proposal that threatens to change this small town way of life is a bitter pill to swallow. Congress voted on the changes last week, but another vote is expected. If the changes are approved, they will take effect January 2007.


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