TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Every day in Florida, patients struggle to afford their medications.
They leave their doctor’s office reassured, having finally been prescribed medicine that can help them feel better. But between the doctor putting pen to paper and patients going to pick up the prescription, profit-minded middlemen called Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) slip their way into the process and cause chaos, providing anything but relief.
PBMs are more accurately described as “pharmacy benefit manipulators” – acting as middlemen between drug manufacturers, insurers, pharmacies, and patients. They dramatically restrict patient choice, inflating the price of prescription drugs and often forcing patients to receive those medications that will provide PBMs the biggest profit.
Because these go-betweens operate in the shadows, many patients are unaware of the deception taking place in Florida’s health care system.
With so many Florida patients in desperate need of financial relief when dealing with health care, it’s the duty of those of us who serve in the Legislature to take action to hold PBMs accountable. Thankfully, transformative bipartisan legislation – SB 1550 and HB 1509 – would do just that.
This legislation will bring transparency to a now-opaque system, ensuring that PBMs report price increases and that fees paid to PBMs are reasonable and fair. It will empower state officials to hold PBMs accountable while also requiring them to share data about drug acquisition costs and affiliate relationships.
It will also strengthen patient choice, allowing patients to choose to get their prescriptions filled at pharmacies that are convenient to them – not to the PBMs.
These reforms will be life-changing for many Florida patients. I know this because I’ve heard many of them say so themselves.
Through my time serving on the House Health and Human Services Committee and the Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee, I’ve heard countless stories of heartbreak, told by everyone from patients to physicians.
Patients are frustrated because they’re paying too much to get relief. Doctors are disheartened by non-medical middlemen mandating the medications they can prescribe.
All these stories share a common bottom line: manipulation by business-focused intermediaries who have a vested interest in themselves, not patients.
Thankfully, SB 1550 and HB 1509 will address this issue head-on and bring long-awaited change to Florida’s health care system. I am grateful to my colleagues Sen. Jason Brodeur and Rep. Linda Chaney for sponsoring this important legislation, and to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his continuous support in the fight to put Florida patients first.
Patients deserve to feel real relief when purchasing prescription drugs, and it’s finally within reach. Now more than ever, I am hopeful Florida lawmakers will kick PBMs out and put patients in the driver’s seat of their own care.
Rep. John Snyder represents Florida District 86 and is a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee and Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee.