Montana lawmakers addressing high prescription costs

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By: Amy Beth Hanson

A bill requested by the state Auditor’s Office, which has passed the Senate and was endorsed 82-18 in the House Wednesday, would give insurance companies that sell policies through the marketplace the regulatory backing to negotiate better contracts with pharmacy benefit managers. It faces a final House vote Thursday.

State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale has argued pharmacy benefit managers are pocketing too much money and choose the types of drugs they’ll cover based on the rebate they receive from manufacturers.

The bill, which requires rebates to be returned to the insurers and used to reduce premiums, has been adopted by the National Academy of State Health Policy as model legislation for addressing prescription drug prices. Maine has introduced a similar bill. Rosendale said his office has been in contact with lawmakers in Louisiana, Texas, North Dakota and Rhode Island about the legislation.

The state employee health plan has used similar contract requirements to save millions of dollars, the auditor’s office said.

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