Press Statement from Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All, Regarding the Senate Legislation to Address Prescription Drug Pricing:
"Heath Care For All is excited to support the Senate's prescription drug bill released today. This summer the House, Senate and Administration worked together and took an important step forward to rein in high prescription drug costs in the MassHealth program. We are pleased to see the Senate is now taking a comprehensive approach to tackling drug prices in the private market, as 3 out of 5 residents of the Commonwealth have private health insurance.
"We will only be able to bring down prescription drug prices if we both shine a light on the process and provide incentives to hold manufacturers accountable. Every other stakeholder group in the state already contributes to bringing down health care costs - consumers are subjected to the individual mandate, employers pay a health care assessment for their workers, and insurers and hospitals must abide by the state's cost growth benchmark and testify at the Cost Trends Hearing. Only the pharmaceutical industry is not currently part of the solution.
"The Senate bill includes a critical provision that gives the Health Policy Commission the authority to issue a proposed value of a drug if pharmaceutical manufacturers do not work to lower costs, and it also requires them to testify at the annual Cost Trends Hearing. We currently are reviewing the bill text to ensure there is sufficient public input and disclosure, as well as direct benefits to consumers.
"The consumer-friendly measure to cap out-of-pocket expenses for insulin at $25 a month provides immediate relief to people living with diabetes, individuals who have experienced first-hand the impact of skyrocketing prices of life-saving drugs. We know that many are forced to ration their insulin or make hard decisions about reducing other basic needs to be able to afford it.
"Consumers should always be paying the lowest possible price for their medicines. That's why we were glad to see the bill ensures consumers are informed of the lowest cost option for purchasing a drug when they go to the pharmacy. The proposal also requires licensure and oversight of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), the middlemen between pharmacies and insurers who add costs to the system.
"The legislation strengthens and funds the academic detailing program, an important initiative to provide unbiased, evidence-based drug education for medical providers that can help counterbalance the marketing tactics used by the pharmaceutical sector to promote their products.
"There is a great deal of overlap between this legislation and the Governor's proposal last month, and we continue to work with the House and are eager to see their approach to addressing this critical issue. As advocates, we are looking forward to working with the Administration, the Senate and the House to find consensus and secure policy solutions that lower prescription drug costs for the system as a whole and for individuals."