California Governor Gavin Newsom has reportedly pulled back on his threat to boycott Walgreens because the pharmacy chain confirmed that it would not sell the abortion pill in states where it is illegal to do so.
In March, Newsom blasted the pharmacy with a tweet that said, “California won’t be doing business with @walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk. We’re done.”
Now, his administration has walked back that statement because it appears that it would violate federal law for the state to halt business with Walgreens.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the state is bound by federal law to continue doing business with Walgreens through the Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, which serves roughly 15 million residents. Federal law requires that Medicaid recipients be able to receive their prescriptions at any approved pharmacy. Records show that last year, the state paid Walgreens $1.5 billion dollars.
Following his announcement, Newsom had ordered the state not to renew a $54 million contract with Walgreens over the dispensation of medication within the prison system. With the reversal of his decision, Walgreens has once more been invited to apply for that contract.
“California has no intention of taking any action that would violate federal Medicaid requirements, or that could undermine access for low-income individuals,” Tony Cava, a spokesperson for the California Department of Health Care Services, said in a statement.
“Tweeting is not policy,” added Newsom spokesman Anthony York, referring to Newsom’s original threat to Walgreen.
Though Walgreens has confirmed that it will not sell abortion drugs in 21 states, its reason is simply because those states warned it that it would be illegal to do so. It has thus far not recanted from its original intention to make chemical abortions available in its pharmacies in states that would allow it.
“Walgreens plans to dispense mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so,” Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman confirmed Friday. “Once we are certified by the FDA, we will dispense this medication consistent with federal and state laws. Providing legally approved medications to patients is what pharmacies do, and is rooted in our commitment to the communities in which we operate.”
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