Suffolk taps WellDyneRx to run county prescription plan

A screen grab of the homepage for WellDyneRX, A screen grab of the homepage for WellDyneRX, named to manage Suffolk County's prescription drug program on Feb. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Welldynerx.com

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The Bellone administration, after a year of false starts, has picked WellDyneRx to run the county prescription drug plan, but officials say they won't know until next year whether the county is achieving the $17 million in annual savings needed from county health plans.

Justin Meyers, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said the Colorado-based pharmacy benefits manager was the unanimous choice among seven bidders by the union-management committee. He said WellDyneRx will start work in May after a final contract is worked out.

County and union officials said Suffolk can expect to see about $6 million in immediate savings, but the full impact of cost-cutting steps won't be determined until expenditures in 2013 and 2014 are reconciled in 2015.

Both union and management officials expressed confidence that expected savings will come through without reducing benefits to county workers. Under an agreement that lasts until 2020, the prescription plan must achieve $17 million in annual savings or unions must agree to further steps to curb costs.

The extra time is needed because the county health plan underwent a rocky transition in the past year. One firm, OptumRx, chosen in a selection process a year ago to administer prescription drugs, including a mandatory mail-order plan, balked at the last minute at signing a county contract.

Officials then extended the contract of its existing drug-plan provider, Express Scripts Inc., which implemented the mail-order plan while a new request for proposals was sought.

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Officials in October also asked for a county comptroller's audit after legislative budget analysts, citing county consultants, said Suffolk would need $29.8 million more than the $322.3 million Bellone budgeted in his 2014 budget for health insurance costs. They said $16.1 million of the shortfall was due to higher-than-expected drug costs.

Comptroller Joseph Sawicki said the audit has gathered the necessary raw data and an electronic audit of claims is underway to determine the extent of problems. He expects a preliminary report by the end of March.

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