It's ridiculous. North Dakota is the only state in the nation where you can walk into a Walgreens drugstore and it's illegal to have them fill your prescription. That gets a laugh from every national audience I've spoken to about prescription drugs coverage.
A YES vote on Measure 7 (on November 4, 2014) does NOT close "rural pharmacies" or drugstores - in any size North Dakota city - owned by independent pharmacists. Local residents can - and should - continue to patronize these local professionals IF having a pharmacy in their community is important to themselves and other residents. Most insurance plans will pay the rural pharmacy the same as an urban pharmacy if it's in your plan's "network." If it isn't in the plan's network, usually the insurance company will pay a lesser amount than that paid to an in-network pharmacy. You would still receive most of the coverage on a particular drug, but you'd pay more. That extra amount may be the price needed to pay to support the local pharmacy that some feel is important to their community.
The "rural pharmacy closing" complaint is a red herring touted by both urban and rural independent pharmacy owners to keep out competition from coming into North Dakota. It is NOT a reason to deny most North Dakotans the same options and choices consumers enjoy in 49 other states.
The North Dakota Pharmacists' Association has lobbied to keep this law in place for over a half-century. And they've been successful because the majority in the North Dakota legislature voted to keep this restriction going. If independent pharmacy owners can block national competition with a state government law, I'm sure they're all for keeping it. Why not?
Here's why not: because it's wrong for consumers. There are national discount programs, such as Walmart's $4 generic list of drugs, and other programs offered by Walgreens, CVS, Target, Costco, and other national pharmacy retailers, that North Dakotans should be "allowed" to consider as options. That's why I was one of 33 North Dakotans who sponsored this year's (2014) petition drive to get this issue on the ballot and break the legislative gridlock. We were successful in collecting ten-thousand more signatures than we needed to get the issue on the November 4th ballot: it's Measure 7 and I urge you to vote YES. In fact, 23,000 North Dakotans signed petitions to make this a ballot issue and, I believe, most signed the petition because they favor getting rid of this law.
If you have drug insurance, through your employer or through the Medicare Part D program, why should you care about this issue? Because, with the large number of drugs offered by national $4 programs, the cost of your prescription drug may be LESS than your "copay." You personally save there and your insurance company saves on what they would have had to pay too. Prescription drugs continue to be one of the fastest-growing components of yearly increases in health insurance premiums. Repealing North Dakota's ownership law is good for everyone: consumers, health care providers, employers and the business community at large.
Repeal can be a relief for those without insurance and for those who fall within Medicare Part D's "donut hole" or "gap" in coverage. In 2014, after $2,960 in prescription drug payments, receive no insurance coverage until they've paid over $4,500 in drug expenses. Those in that situation need as many choices as possible in shopping for the lowest prices on prescription drugs. Repeal of North Dakota's ownership law will offer more choices from leading national pharmacy retailers - like Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Costco, CVS and others - while NOT outlawing competition from independently-owned local pharmacies throughout the state.
Those who tell you we should keep this law, and cite countless statistics that try to report that we have "the lowest pharmacy drug prices in the nation," usually have a vested interest in keeping the present law in place. All I ask is to let ME decide where I can shop for prescription drugs. I'm voting to repeal this law and allow the marketplace to work, as it does in all other states but North Dakota!