Kalispell Senator’s Bill Seeks to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

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By: Molly Priddy

A Kalispell lawmaker hopes to lower prescription drug prices for Montanans with a new bill at the state Legislature.

State Sen. Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell, is sponsoring Senate Bill 71, which establishes new requirements for prescription drug benefits offered under a health benefit plan.

It’s one of several attempts to tackle the major expenses of health care, Olszewski said, built in coordination with the state Auditor Matt Rosendale’s office. As a law, it regulates how insurance companies can interact with pharmacy benefit managers (PBM), or third-party administrators of prescription drug plans.

“The pharmacy benefit managers were playing a major role in the distribution and handling of the prescription drugs between the insurers and the manufacturers and the pharmacy and the consumers,” Rosendale said…

Rosendale likened the PBM role as a subcontractor for the insurance company, acting as the general contractor. Since several attempts to regulate the PBMs directly have failed challenges in court, SB 71 would regulate how insurers do business with them instead.

According to Derek Oestreicher, staff attorney for the state auditor’s office, the bill would eliminate spread pricing and provide a disincentive for rebate “schemes.”

Read more at the Flathead Beacon