by Joseph Spector
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed legislation that would prohibit insurers from requiring patients to get prescriptions through the mail.
The Democratic governor sought to strike a compromise between advocates and opponents of the measure, saying that lawmakers have agreed to pass an amendment to the law to create price fairness between store pharmacies and mail-order businesses.
The law will allow people to fill any prescription covered by mail order at an independent retail pharmacy as long as the pharmacy price is comparable.
Cuomo said the law would be contingent on lawmakers approving an amendment that the retail pharmacy must agree in advance to accept the same reimbursement rate as mail-order pharmacies.
He also signed a second bill that with the same provisions. The second bill would let a customer buy fertility drugs at a pharmacy instead of a mail-order pharmacy.
“With the understanding that these amendments will be passed, I approve these bills,” Cuomo wrote in the bill memo.
There was no date provided for when the measures would take effect.
The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York has been pushing for the bill since it was passed by the Legislature last spring.
The group said the bill would help counter the loss of jobs and community drugstores. But insurers argued that the number of licensed pharmacists has been growing and that mail-order drug businesses provide hundreds of jobs in New York.
About 375 independent pharmacies in New York have closed since 2008, according to the Pharmacists Society, which is based in Albany. The group estimates that between $4 billion and $5 billion for prescriptions leaves the state each year.