Rosendale wants to override governor’s veto of bill

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By: Phil Drake

Legislators are being asked to override Gov. Steve Bullock’s veto of a prescription drug cost bill, Auditor Matt Rosendale said Monday, adding ballots were sent last week to support the bill that would save Montanans nearly $8 million a year.

Rosendale said he is seeking a bipartisan effort by legislators to sidestep the May 9 veto of Senate Bill 71. He said the ballots, sent by the Secretary of State’s office, must be returned by June 14…

“All it takes to save Montanans millions on their medications is for legislators to stick to the votes they originally cast,” Rosendale, a Republican, said in a news release, adding he also “strongly’ encouraged those who didn’t vote for it the first time to now “stand up for their constituents.”

SB 71, drafted by the state auditor’s staff and highly touted, mandates health insurers pay the same for prescriptions that pharmacies receive for those drugs. It keeps Pharmacy Benefit Managers from reimbursing pharmacies for less than they charge health plans and keep the difference. Insurance companies are also to get the rebates that drug manufacturers normally pay to PBMs. The insurance companies are to use those rebates to lower drug costs…

Rep. Gordon Pierson, D-Deer Lodge, was the sponsor of this legislation in the House and is a practicing nurse.

“My patients are suffering from the ever-increasing burden of paying for health care and high prescription costs,” he stated. “SB 71 transcends party lines and would save Montanans millions on prescription drugs.”

Rep. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, called it “smart policy” to address the high cost of prescription drugs.
“This very bipartisan legislation will be a big step in the right direction to making medications more accessible and affordable,” he said.

Sen. Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell, is an orthopedic surgeon who sponsored the bill in the Senate and said SB 71 will lower prescription drug costs and “give folks much-needed relief on their health insurance rates.”

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