Wagner Clinic owner: Reimbursement climate must change

It’s with great disappointment that I announce the closure of Wagner Clinic Pharmacy, effective Dec. 28, 2018. While my emotions in this decision run deep, as it’s where I started my career in pharmacy and even had the privilege of working with George Wagner himself, those don’t matter amidst the reimbursement climate currently facing pharmacies. Our main location remains healthy and open for business.

My wife, Nora, and I would like to thank our staff that did their best to defend their home against the financial effects of the Affordable Care Act and privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid program, and also Medical Associates, who treated us with partnership and collaboration over the years.

We all make voting decisions as Americans, and in the time that I consider myself to be politically affluent enough to make an informed vote, I’ve witnessed both liberal and conservative legislation damage healthcare providers. Simultaneously, political leaders do nothing but talk about the real economic inefficiencies in healthcare. I am not villianizing capitalism. I’m all for actual capitalism, but we do not have that, so we try to survive in a twisted version of cronyism that favors insurers and pharmaceutical companies. One theme I see, no matter which party sponsors what or how glorious the legislation is touted to be, is that big money wins, and the American people lose. One would be hard tasked to convince me otherwise. I didn’t turn on my news network of choice and get a hyperbolic dose of hubristic drama and pick a side to debate against whoever chose to defend the opposite. The reality I’m faced with in healthcare has formed these perspectives.

I would be remiss if I didn’t pay respect to our Iowa legislators, who have stood by Iowa’s pharmacies consistently. I respect their track record of bipartisanship and legislating after taking the time to listen to their constituents. My feelings in this letter are not implicating them in our current mess.

Wagner has done plenty to address the challenges the ACA presented that pharmacy could influence, and we’ve quietly become a powerhouse in patient-focused pharmaceutical care. If local providers are struggling with patients who take their medications improperly or not at all, we can help. Our model is before its time, and I admit the healthcare industry was not ready for pharmacies to transition from the dispensary model to more involved participants. The ACA called upon pharmacies to change, so we did. If this is what legislators and insurers wanted, then it’s time they start reimbursing us for contributions we make.

My company’s roots in the community run deep, and we want the ability to continue to care for its citizens, with perhaps special attention on our neighbors with more substantial needs at the pharmacy. Our ability to do that has been challenged in recent years. My hope is that the reimbursement climate changes soon, and that our local providers enlist us as partners in meeting the goals of the ACA. Our future depends on it.

Tim Wright,