TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A bill designed to provide transparency and accountability in order to regulate Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) has unanimously passed the House Healthcare Regulation Committee.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Linda Chaney (R-Hillsborough), explained that HB 1509 seeks to “better regulate PBMs” which she said would "make the prescription drug supply chain more transparent and accountable, redirect savings away from PBMs to the consumer, and increase consumer choice of where they can buy prescription drugs”.
ACT AS “MIDDLE MEN”
Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are known by some in the healthcare industry as “middle men” since they negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers on behalf of insurance providers to purchase medications at discounted rates or secure rebates for customers.
“While PBMs were originally started for the purpose of reducing prescription drug costs to consumers, over the years what they’ve actually done is pocket most of the discounts negotiated instead of passing the savings to consumers,” Rep. Chaney stated.
Chaney added: “Since 2003, prescription drug prices have risen more than 180 percent and just three PBMs control over 80 percent of this $450 billion industry, basically eliminating a competitive market.”
However, the bill’s opponents were quick to point out that although HB 1509 claims to lower costs for the consumer, there’s not much in the bill that actually speaks to that.
“RIGID CONTRACTUAL MANDATES”
Connor Rose, Senior Director, State Affairs of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, testified in opposition to the bill: “There’s not one provision in the bill that would actually lower prices for the consumer,” he said.
Rose pointed specifically to section 11, which he states contains “very rigid contractual mandates” that would be placed on PBMs which could in turn, counterproductively, drive up consumer prices. That’s because the restrictions placed on PBMs in the bill would make employee benefits more expensive for employers, which could then in turn, further drive up consumer costs.
“We agree that drug prices are too high, that’s why we (PBMs) exist,” Connor stated. “But this legislation has several unintended consequences that will end up actually making costs higher for consumers,” he concluded.
HB 1509 eventually passed the House Healthcare Regulation Committee unanimously and is now headed to the House Appropriations Committee.