Ms. Loretta Santilli|
Director, Division of Nutrition, Riverview Center
New York State Department of Health
150 Broadway, Suite 650
Albany, NY 12204
Dear Ms. Santilli,
As an independent supermarket owner, and a job provider in New York State, I am reaching out today to urge you to allow supermarkets without a pharmacy inside to continue accepting WIC payments for exempt formula.
The policy of not allowing independent supermarkets to take WIC payments from customers buying exempt formula is discriminatory to small businesses and burdensome on WIC participants. I understand and respect the fraud issue the DOH has to confront, but punishing law-abiding vendors is not the solution.
If not changed, this arbitrary action will have a harmful economic impact on the independent supermarkets and the communities we serve. The stores will immediately lose not only the formula sales, but also the sales of the other products that this consumer typically buys when she takes a trip to the store. But more importantly than the immediate sales, we can potentially lose this customer's goodwill, as she will shop elsewhere for the exempt formula. Once a customer's loyalty is lost, it is very difficult to gain it back.
Additionally, my customers are upset, as it is very difficult for a mother to take an additional trip to a pharmacy that may be miles from her home, to find the formula that has been lawfully prescribed for her baby. Moreover, many costumers feel it is the store's decision not to accept the WIC payments for the exempt formula, which exacerbate our concerns of losing customers.
While I understand that DOH is attempting long term solutions to the exempt formula problems, such solutions do not alleviate the current problems this new policy is causing.
As an honest, hard working retailer, I am committed to providing the NYS Department of Health the required documentation to avoid fraud from occurring in my store. I want to be part of the solution, not collateral damage.
As a small business owner, a constituent, and job provider, I strongly urge you to allow independent supermarkets without a pharmacy to continue accepting WIC payments for the exempt formula.
I look forward to a favorable response.