Van Hollen, Cardin Introduce Bill to Help States Tackle Prescription Drug Costs

pill and bottleIn an effort to strengthen state efforts to reduce the rising price of prescription drugs, Maryland U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin have introduced the Empowering States to Address Drug Costs Act.

The act would help provide states with vital information that can be used by prescription drug affordability boards or state multi-payer purchasing pools to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.

From the press release:

“In the face of skyrocketing prescription drug costs that leave too many families unable to access life-saving medication, we need to tackle this crisis. States like Maryland are at the forefront of devising innovative solutions to bring relief to patients, and the federal government must do everything in its power to ensure they have the tools they need to enact meaningful reforms at the state level. At the same time, we will continue to push in Congress for national reforms on this critical issue,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Maryland is working to make life-changing and life-saving prescription drugs more affordable. Our legislation would keep such programs nationwide on track, helping millions” said Senator Cardin, who also introduced the legislation as an amendment to a pending bill on drug pricing being considered in the Senate Finance Committee.

During the 2019 Maryland General Assembly session, MACo supported legislation to create a new state-level Prescription Drug Affordability Board. The original legislation would have empowered the Board to address and safeguard against rising prescription drug prices by setting upper payment limits. Following amendments, the Board will study the area of drug pricing — including whether it is in the state’s best interest to set upper payment limits — and recommend avenues for improving drug affordability.

The Senators’ bill is intended to help states, like Maryland, that are trying to address the high price of prescription drugs. Maryland Matters reports:

Vincent DeMarco, head of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, the nonprofit that spearheaded the creation of the prescription drug board, said the senators’ bill will have two key benefits.

“It will help state government initiatives get as close as possible to the lowest costs in the marketplace and it will help avoid industry lawsuits that could happen if a state mistakenly exceeded Medicaid rebate levels,” he said in a statement.

“More federal support will be needed to protect states from industry lawsuits, but this is a really important place to start.”

For more information:

Van Hollen, Cardin Introduce Empowering State to Address Drug Costs Act (Press Release)

Empowering States to Address Drug Costs Act (Bill Text)

Counties Support Establishment of Prescription Drug Affordability Board (Conduit Street)

Legislation Aimed at Helping States Rein in High Cost of Drugs (Maryland Matters)

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