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For the second time this year, California officials have delayed a much-ballyhooed effort to start a program in which the state would negotiate prescription drug prices and create a its own purchasing system for certain medicines. But this time, it is unclear when the initiative will get off the ground.

A notice on the California Department of Health Care Services website says the new Medi-Cal Rx program was scheduled to start on April 1, but has been delayed. No start date was given and a department spokesperson wrote us that an update will be provided next month. The website indicates a meeting is scheduled for May 19.


This marks the second time the state has postponed a program that would standardize pharmacy benefits. Announced two years ago, the ultimate goal is to negotiate prices for certain drugs on behalf of all 13 million people covered by Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program. Right now, the state represents 2 million people and the rest are covered by managed care plans that separately negotiate prices.

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