MONTANA’S MODEL TO LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS CONTINUES TO EXPAND NATIONALLY
HELENA, Mont. – A United States Senate Committee today introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at lowering health care costs, including provisions largely modeled off State Auditor Matt Rosendale’s legislation to lower prescription drug costs in Montana.
Rosendale’s office has been in regular contact with the U.S. Senate HELP Committee over the past year, providing insights and suggestions to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019, introduced in the U.S. Senate today by health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) includes reforms based on those recently passed by the Montana Legislature in Senate Bill 71. (Governor Bullock vetoed SB 71 but an effort to override that veto is currently underway).
Most notably, the federal legislation includes a prohibition on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) engaging in spread pricing (the practice of charging a health plan or insurer more than it costs to pay a pharmacy for a medication) and requires 100 percent of drug manufacturer rebates be passed through to the health plan or insurer, instead of being retained by PBMs. Those reforms were the two biggest cost-saving provisions in Montana’s SB 71.
The U.S. Senate’s action today is the latest example of how Rosendale’s made-in-Montana reforms are expanding nationally. The State of Maine has also introduced legislation modeled of SB 71, and several other states are looking at doing the same.
Rosendale again encouraged Montana lawmakers to override the governor’s veto of SB 71, noting that federal legislation often takes years to pass, if it becomes law at all.
“While it’s good news that Congress is taking a step in the right direction, there’s no reason for Montana to wait for the rest of the country to catch up with the cost-saving plans we’ve brought forward,” Rosendale said. “Montanans need relief from high prescription drug prices right now. The Legislature can make that happen by voting one more time to make Senate Bill 71 law.”