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Maryland Senators Focus on Drug Costs

July 25th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) have introduced the Empowering States to Address Drug Costs Act, which would bolster state efforts to lower prescription drug costs. The bill would provide states, including Maryland, with average manufacturer price, best price, and rebate calculation data under Medicaid in order to establish and operate prescription drug affordability boards or state multi-payer purchasing pools that help negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.

“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.

In Maryland, the state is setting up a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to examine drugs with costs that greatly impact Marylanders. This data will be central to their effort. Under current law, this information is confidential, but access to this data will help strengthen states’ bargaining position with drug manufacturers in their efforts to curb prescription drug costs. States would be required to keep this information confidential, as state Medicaid programs are already required to do.

Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative, said, “The legislation introduced today by Senators Van Hollen and Cardin is important to the success of Maryland's Prescription Drug Affordability Board and for other states working to make prescription drugs affordable. This one provision will do two things. 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. More federal support will be needed to protect states from industry lawsuits, but this is a really important place to start.  This legislation will ensure that Prescription Drug Affordability Boards and other state drug cost initiatives can produce real results for people.”

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

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