Auditor blasts Bullock for vetoing pharmacy pricing bill

csimt In The News

By: Tim Leeds

Montana State Audtitor Matt Rosendale blasted Gov. Steve Bullock for vetoing a bill backed by his office which Rosandale said in a release would have saved about 70,000 Montanans an estimated $8 million on medications in the first year alone.

“This bill was a Montana solution to lower prescription drug costs. It was sponsored by a Republican in the Senate and carried by a Democrat in the House, and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support,” said State Auditor Matt Rosendale. “It’s simply astonishing that Governor Bullock would side with the multi-billion-dollar drug companies instead of Montanans and the doctors, pharmacists, and other health care professionals who supported the bill.”

“Bullock’s veto is a gift to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and it’s a slap in the face to consumers. Montanans expect much, much better from their governor,” Rosendale added…

Senate Bill 71, sponsored by Sen. AL Olszewski, R-Kalispell, and carried in the House by Rep. Gordon Pierson, D-Deer Lodge, would have reformed how health insurance companies contract with pharmacy benefit managers, a hot topic in the nation in the last year or so.

It passed the House 71-27 on final reading and the Senate 37-13 in its final reading there.

Rosendale’s release said his office, which oversees insurance and securities in the state, wrote the bill from scratch after a two-year investigation into Montana drug prices.

The release cited several people saying Bullock’s veto was wrong, including two Havreites.

“Patients are helpless participants in the health insurance marketplace. SB 71 offered protections for them against price hikes caused by kickbacks and conflicts of interests,” Dr. Marc Whitacre said in the release.

Havre City Council member Sarah McKinney, speaking as a private citizen and small business owner and not for the council, also was quoted.

“I am very saddened to hear that Governor Bullock has vetoed SB 71,” McKinney said. “This powerful legislation was a clear step for reducing healthcare costs and his veto keeps Montanans locked into healthcare that puts big insurance companies first and patients last. He should have considered the needs of our citizens more than proving a partisan point.”…

Windy Boy said he didn’t see problems with the bill.

“I have no idea why it got vetoed,” he said. “It looked pretty straight-forward to me,”

Tempel said he understands the governor somehow came up with the idea that prices could increase under the bill.

“I cannot understand how that was figured,” he said.

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