Veto override poll goes out to legislators over prescription drug costs bill

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By: Holly Michels

Montana’s state auditor is trying to override a veto on a bill his office backed to regulate the interactions insurance companies have with pharmacy benefit managers.

Senate Bill 71 passed the Legislature earlier this spring by wide margins, 71-27 in the House and 37-13 in the Senate. Auditor Matt Rosendale, a Republican, said in a press release Monday announcing the override effort he estimated the bill would save Montanans about $8 million a year.

The bill, which was carried by Sen. Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell, passed with enough support that it triggered an automatic poll of legislators about a veto override. Ballots went out last week and are due back June 14. If two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote to override the veto, the bill will become law. The bill passed by more that that threshold.

“If every legislator who already voted to lower prescription drug costs votes for this bill one more time, it will become law,” Rosendale said in a press release Monday. “All it takes to save Montanans millions on their medications is for legislators to stick to the votes they originally cast.”…

Rosendale’s office issued a “fact check” of Bullock’s veto, questioning the evidence that the bill would have resulted in higher costs. A fiscal note attached to the bill only estimated costs for the state to implement the legislation, which were minimal, and not its effect on insurance companies or people paying premiums.

In its response, the auditor’s office said similar steps taken by the former manager of the state’s health insurance plan saved about $7.4 million in the first year of implementation.

Read more at the Helena IR