• WisBusiness

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Keith Schmitz: Sometimes corporate mergers make sense for consumers


By Keith Schmitz
Health care costs are among the most vexing challenges families and small businesses across Wisconsin. Prescription drugs, which cost more than $300 billion in 2009 and are expected to exceed $450 billion by 2019, are one of the chief sources of high health care costs.

Leaders in Washington have engaged in a fierce debate about how to control health care costs, but there is one thing they can do today that will not cost a dime: Approve the Express Scripts-Medco Merger.

The Express Scripts-Medco merger will combine the expertise of two Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). They already create enormous savings in our health care system, including bringing savings to Medicare.

Experts predict companies like the new Express Scripts-Medco will save taxpayers $469 billion from 2006-2015. These savings translate directly into more jobs. Each 1 percent reduction in prescription drug costs covers the cost of creating 20,000 new jobs. We all know that the country and Wisconsin in particular are in dire need of more jobs and revenue.

These two companies already manage the pharmacy benefits for more than 1.9 million patients in the state of Wisconsin through the benefit plans of the Milwaukee Public Schools, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Wisconsin, Network Health Plan of Wisconsin and WCA Group Health Trust.

Of course, savings mean nothing if they result in poorer quality of care. The new Express-Scripts-Medco promises to enhance health in our country by combining their years of experience managing benefits and assisting prescription drug users. Studies show that prescription drug users are more likely to take their prescriptions and less likely to suffer harmful interactions among prescriptions if they receive their drugs via home-delivery.

Bringing Express Scripts and Medco together will amplify savings for patients and government, improve quality of care and help curb health care costs that are hurting the economy and costing America jobs. There have been a lot of corporate mergers that I have not been crazy about, because they often result in diminished service, but this is one that makes sense for consumers and business in bringing more of these benefits to more people.

I would like to see myself and others who are in small business have this kind of enhanced service available to us.

-- Schmitz is a small-business owner in southeast Wisconsin.

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