LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Wal-Mart, which grew huge by beating the prices of competitors, scored a court victory as a judge struck down a new state Medicaid policy that reimbursed large chain pharmacies at a lower rate than smaller ones.
In Wednesday's ruling, U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele called the policy unconstitutional, arbitrary and politically motivated.
Eisele issued a permanent injunction against the policy, which had been put into effect April 28. Wal-Mart filed suit last month.
The policy paid chains with 11 or more stores an estimated cost of the average wholesale prescription price minus 17.3 percent. Pharmacies with fewer than 11 stores were paid the average price minus 10.3 percent. It was expected to save the state up to $4.5 million.
The state Department of Human Services, which oversees the Medicaid program, is considering an appeal, spokesman Joe Quinn said.
The agency argued that the policy protects smaller pharmacies and independent stores that offer such costly extras as delivery for people in rural areas without access to other drug stores.
Wal-Mart, which had sales of $165 billion last year, said the policy would have cost it $1 million a year.
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