CRYSTAL FALLS—A case of miscommunication between the Iron County Medical Care Facility board and NorthStar Health System administrators is being blamed for the loss of a $1 million prescription drug contract to a national pharmacy.
The county medical care facility has signed a three year contract with Omnicare to provide drugs at the Crystal Falls Township facility. But Iron County commissioners voiced concerns that moving the contract to a provider outside of the county may cost local jobs and put taxpayers at risk.
“The Iron County Medical Care Facility is owned by the taxpayers of this county,” attorney Steven Tinti reminded the group. He added that Iron County taxpayers are assessed 1.5 mills and have approved a bond issue to support the medical care facility. “I would doubt the provider selected is a tax payer in this county,” Tinti added. “I would doubt the provider selected is a resident of this county.”
NorthStar board president Mark Tousignant and board member James Gibula voiced concerns that jobs and revenues would leave the county along with the prescription drug contract. Tousignant agrued that contracting with Omnicare would cost the local economy one full-time pharmacist job and two pharmacists’ assistants.
“We have a signed contract with Specialized Pharmacy,” ICMCF administrator Chester Pintarelli told the group. “We know what they can provide.”
Pintarelli said his three member board spent months reviewing proposals and assessing changes in federal long-term care standards. Pintarelli contented that Omnicare could bring ICMCF into compliance with changing long term care guideline, potentially saving the facility 25,000-$30,000 annually. However, the three-year contract does include a 60 day unilateral opt-out clause.
The issue arose after commissioner Fran Wills received a letter from the NorthStar board to Pintarelli criticizing the contract award and contending that NorthStar hadn’t had a chance to offer a proposal. Pintarelli and Archocosky argued that NorthStar in fact had offered a proposal.
Chief financial officer Glenn Dobson countered that NorthStar had told ICMCF that NorthStar did not want to compete with local pharmacies but would offer a proposal if County board chairman Wayne Wales asked ICMCF and NorthStar representatives if they would be willing to meet to discuss NorthStar’s proposal, suggesting that the opt out clause could be used to allow NorthStar a chance to bring that contract back to Iron county.
Both ICMCF and NorthStar officials agreed to discuss the issue.
NorthStar currently has the largest payroll in Iron County. The ICMCF employs the largest number of people.
Omnicare is based in Covington, Kentucky. In August the company agreed to a “settlement in principle” to resolve a lawsuit alleging it paid a kickback to Philip Esformes, and his father Morris, part owners of Total Pharmacy Services LLC.