Sen. Keiser pre-files 5 bills to address high prescription drug costs

Looking ahead to the 2020 legislative session, Senator Karen Keiser recently pre-filed five bills aimed at addressing the high costs of prescription drugs in Washington State. The following pieces of legislation look to address the issue from multiple angles including price caps, increased transparency, and importation from Canada.

 

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SB 6087 – this bill would cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $100 for a 30-day supply.

“The legislature finds that diabetes imposes a significant health risk and tremendous financial burden on the citizens and government of the state of Washington, and that access to the medically accepted standards of care for diabetes, its treatment and supplies, and self-management training and education is crucial to prevent or delay the short and long-term complications of diabetes and its attendant costs,” reads the bill.

Colorado became the first state in the nation to pass legislation capping the price of insulin for consumers in May of this year. Since then, other states have proposed similar bills.

Language in SB 6087 states that the $100 price cap will expire upon the implementation of a centralized state insulin purchasing program.

Another one of Keiser’s pre-filed bills —  SB 6113 – would create that central insulin purchasing program “to leverage the buying power of all insulin purchasers in the state and with the goal of lowering the cost of insulin.”

SB 6088 – this bill would establish a prescription drug affordability board. The five-member board would be charged with monitoring and identifying prescription drugs that it believes will lead to excess costs to the state or patients, and then establishing a process for setting upper payment limits on those drugs.

SB 6110 – this legislation would require the Health Care Authority (HCA) to design a “wholesale prescription drug importation program” with Canada. The bill states that on July 1, 2021, the HCA will submit a formal request to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services for certification of the drug importation program.

SB 6111 – this bill would develop a pharmacy tourism program to allow state employees to purchase prescription drugs at lower costs from Canadian pharmacies. The program will allow the state to contract with at least one Canadian pharmacy, and the program will include reimbursement for transportation and lodging expenses for participants, as well as participation incentives that may include premium discounts, rebates, or reduced out-of-pocket costs.

“This is a crisis,” said Sen. Keiser in a statement announcing the pre-filed bills. “My colleagues and I hear every day from constituents who can’t afford their medication anymore, people who have to choose between prescriptions and rent.

“We have a responsibility to curb excessive costs of critical prescription drugs that are vital for people’s health. I’m working together with stakeholders to take several steps to make crucial, life-sustaining medications more affordable.”

Keiser’s bills bill be considered during the 2020 legislative session which will begin January 13.