COVID vaccine reimbursement issues causing problems for Arizona pharmacies

Oct 22, 2021, 4:45 AM
(Pexels photo)...
(Pexels photo)
(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — The federal government is fronting the money for anyone who wants to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but an Arizona pharmacy group said challenges with reimbursement are resulting in staffing shortages.

Pharmacies order the vaccines and then bill insurance companies who are supposed to reimburse them for the cost, but Kelly Fine with the Arizona Pharmacy Association said there have been issues.

“Some of the reimbursements are a lot lower than in the past which makes it difficult for companies when they’re looking at staffing to try and make sure they’re doing well as a business,” Fine told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Fine said this puts a strain on the existing employees since they’re now having to bill the insurance companies, which is a different process from prescription billing.

Since the pharmacies are not getting reimbursed what they thought they would for the vaccines, owners are having to make difficult decisions when it comes to staffing.

This contributes to the labor shortage pharmacies are seeing across the country, along with long wait times for customers.

Fine said where they’re really seeing a lack of workers is pharmacy technicians, who assist the pharmacist.

“A lot of people kind of use it as a stepping stone and aren’t seeing it as a career choice, but then if the work environment is busy that can create situations where those individuals may be seeking employment elsewhere,” Fine said.

She adds the cold and flu season is the busiest time for pharmacies and COVID-19 vaccinations and testing are increasing that seasonal stress.

Fine said she’s seen instances where pharmacies will have to close or adjust their hours due to a lack of staffing.

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COVID vaccine reimbursement issues causing problems for Arizona pharmacies