Louisiana Community leaders urge Express Scripts to reach agreement with Walgreens

By TJS Staff

Louisiana community leaders, health care professionals, and people of faith from urban neighborhoods and inner-cities in Louisiana joined others from across the country today, urging Express Scripts to get back to the negotiating table with Walgreens and allow the nation’s largest pharmacy chain to return to its’ network. As of January 1, Express Scripts stopped provding in-network coverage for prescriptions filled at Walgreens and Duane Reade pharmacies.

The local leaders and groups join more than 130 others that urged Express Scripts to come to an agreement before December 31, 2011, in order to avoid patient disruption. Now that Express Scripts allowed its contract with Walgreens to expire, more than 80 new leaders and groups from across the country have joined the effort, urging the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) to resume negotiations and come to an agreement.

“We strongly urge Express Scripts to put the people of our communities at the forefront of this issue because prolonging the loss of network access to the critical pharmacy services Walgreens provides will be devastating to our communities,” said Harry Alford, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. “Walgreens has been committed to serving urban neighborhoods since its founding 110 years ago and continues to serve communities throughout the United States where quality health care services are scarce. The fact is actually 63 percent of all Americans, 75 percent of African Americans, and 78 percent of Latinos are living within 3 miles of a Walgreens store.”

In a letter to Express Scripts, the group outlined the benefits provided by Walgreens that are no longer available with full network coverage to Express Scripts members as of January 1.

“In many of our neighborhoods, Walgreens serves as a stabilizing influence and has helped draw other businesses into our communities. Walgreens is a valued community partner,” the letter states. “Walgreens is focused on high-quality affordable and accessible traditional pharmacy services, as well as immunization services, and in some locations … professional walk-in health care centers are located in Walgreens pharmacy stores.”

Leaders involved are:
State Representative Herbert Dixon – Alexandria
State Senator Yvonne Dorsey – Baton Rouge
State Representative Regina Barrow – Baton Rouge
Donald Robinson, Urban League
Pastor Tyrone Jefferson, Abundant Life Tabernacle Full Gospel Baptist Church – New Orleans
Reverend D.R. Berryhill, Sr., First Zion Baptist Church- New Orleans
Pastor Jermaine Hampton, Prayer Tower Church of God In Christ – New Orleans
Pastor Moses S. Gordon III, The First American Baptist Church 6th District – New Orleans       
Pastor Tommie L. Triplett, Jr., United Fellowship Full Gospel Baptist Church – Marrero
Pastor Raymond Watson, Apostolic Outreach Center – New Orleans
Pastor Chris S. Gordon, Jr., New Zion Baptist Church – New Orleans
Pastor Robert Brown, Ray Avenue Baptist Church – New Orleans
Pastor Charles Southhall III, First Emanuel Baptist Church – New Orleans
Reverend John Raphael, Jr., New Hope Baptist Church – New Orleans
Pastor Torin Sanders, 6th Baptist Church – New Orleans
Ronald Darby, Vermillion Parish Police Jury –   (Abbeville, LA) 
Barbara J. O’Bear – Mayor Pro-Tempre and Vice President of the LA Municipal Black Caucus (White Castle, LA) 
Albert Matthews – The Network Coalition 
Dr. Jim Quillin – Alexandria
Dr. Michael Berard – Lafayette

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