Interesting new video series highlights Sen. Alan Hays’ efforts during heated drug dispensing debate

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State Senator Alan Hays had a front-row view of how Florida prices and repays workers’ compensation doctors who dispense medication. Now, the Republican Senator from Umatilla is sharing his experiences and reflections on how lawmakers addressed this issue.

Ohio-based Progressive Medical chose Hays as the focus for its inaugural episode on SignatureSeries, which is billed as “an in-depth multimedia educational forum.” Progressive Medicine specializes in Pharmacy Benefit Management for workers’ compensation claims.

“Senator Hays’ persistence and ability to bring opposing sides together is commendable,” said Tommy Young, co-chief executive officer of Progressive Medical. “With such a visible role on a significant issue, he was a logical choice to be our first guest.”

SignatureSeries says it provides insight from industry leaders on a series of issues affecting the workers’ compensation industry. Future topics will include pharmacy trends, regulatory efforts, governmental affairs and clinical innovations.

During the 2013 legislative session, Hays deftly brokered a compromise to pass SB 662. The proposal revised the requirements in setting reimbursement rates for prescription medication. Signed into law in June by Gov. Rick Scott, the bill, proponents argue, will save the state money by giving doctors no more than 60 days to pay manufacturers who supply drugs, or risk disqualification from future shipments.

Workers’ compensation rates in Florida — some of the highest in the U.S. — helped Hays’ four-year effort to moderate doctor–dispensed medications become national news.

In the online video, Hays chats with Brian Allen, V.P. of Government Affairs for Progressive Medical, reflecting on his motivation to improve reimbursement laws.

As a former dentist, Hays was “acutely aware” of the process of reimbursements for workers’ compensation doctors. While serving in the Florida House from 2004-2010, he learned of the “obscene mark ups” doctors were charging the state for drugs. Doctors would regularly purchase cheap drugs for patients, only to turn around and charge the state workers’ compensation system over 600 percent higher rates.  

“I’m in favor of a businessman making a reasonable profit,” he said, “but I consider that kind of mark-up unreasonable. And I was going to do everything I can to stop it.”

Hays also discussed the intricate steps and tightrope-walking of the political process, as well as detailing why SB 662 was necessary for both payers and injured workers in Florida.

“This was the right thing for employers, insurers and patients,” Hays said. “When you know that you did the right thing, you sleep well at night.”

Florida has already seen benefits with the new law, which went into effect July 1; primarily by lowered rates from the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

Hays ended his talk with suggestions for other state legislators wanting to negotiate the political process, so they can do what’s best for constituents.

“We must embrace the principles of compromise without compromising our principles,” he stressed.

Viewers can access the entire SignatureSeries interview by visiting www.progressive-medical.com/signatureseries.

 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.