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What is CSI’s Drug Savings Initiative?
The Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Office of the Montana State Auditor (CSI) began diving into the high costs of prescription drugs shortly after Rosendale took office. The Drug Savings Initiative encompasses all of the actions CSI is taking to address problems within the pharmaceutical industry to protect Montana consumers and lower costs. The Drug Savings Initiative includes legislation, legal actions, research, education, dedicating staff to the project, and working with stakeholders to create solutions.
Why are prescription drug costs so high?
The prescription drug industry is incredibly complex and not at all transparent. There are many reasons for high costs: research and development, regulations, distribution, middlemen, pricing schemes, contract provisions, and even gag clauses. Some of these costs are unavoidable and necessary for delivering needed medications to Montanans. Other costs, CSI has learned, stem from the complex web of transactions among the numerous companies involved between the manufacturing process and the end consumer use.
What can be done about it?
Commissioner Rosendale and the staff of CSI have taken the lead in Montana on addressing this difficult issue. CSI Chief Legal Counsel Kristin Hansen has directed her team to engage in litigation, administrative action, legislation, collaboration, and education. Here are some of the specific actions CSI has taken:
- Drafted legislation for the 2019 Montana legislative session (see above)
- Taken administrative actions against pharmacy benefit managers
- Won settlements in District Court from PBMs
- Advocated for the Legislature to prioritize a study of the pharmaceutical industry
- Given presentations to the Legislature and other entities, led the research during the Legislature’s interim study
- Collaborated with interested parties in both research and drafting legislation
- Sent ideas and legislation to other states and Congress
- Hired a special projects coordinator dedicated to addressing the prescription drug issue
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- National Public Radio: A Tough Negotiator Proves Employers Can Bargain Down Health Care Prices
“[Bartlett] now works for the office of the Montana insurance commissioner, which is taking on pharmacy benefit managers in a bigger way.”
- Associated Press: Regulators propose fines against pharmacy benefits managers
“These companies need to understand that we are serious about consumer protection and that they will be held accountable for their actions.”
- Bozeman Chronicle: As prescription drug costs rise, state auditor goes after pharmacy ‘middle men’
“Rosendale took action against two multi-billion-dollar companies this week for allegedly operating without a Montana license”
- Montana Television Network: Rosendale takes aim at drug-benefit managers
“The pharmacy-benefit managers have had control over this industry like a cartel, and they feel like they don’t have to answer to anybody.”
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Meet the Team
Matt Rosendale is Montana’s insurance commissioner, also known as State Auditor. He has made tackling the extremely high costs of prescription drugs a top priority for his administration in line with CSI’s mission of consumer protection and advocacy.
Kris Hansen is CSI’s Chief Legal Counsel and has built a team dedicated to taking on prescription drug costs. Before joining CSI, Kris was a state senator, served in the Montana Army National Guard, clerked for the Montana Supreme Court, and worked for the CIA.
Marilyn joined CSI following her work saving the state’s health plan millions of dollars per year. As Special Projects Coordinator, Marilyn uses her expertise as a CPA to dive into the details of the prescription drug industry’s pricing schemes.
Derek is a staff attorney for CSI who has engaged in litigation with pharmacy benefit managers and won, forcing them to produce data and contracts. Derek administered Montana’s 2017 special election at the Secretary of State’s office before joining CSI.