No one should have to choose between food and medicine. After years of inaction at the federal level on this issue, several states are starting to work on their own laws to curb the growth in prescription drug prices. As a national leader on health care, Minnesota should be a part of this effort and AARP Minnesota is working at the Capitol this year to make that happen.
The fact is the U.S. health care system spends well over $300 billion a year on prescription drugs, and almost three-fourths of that goes to brand name drugs, even though they make up less than one in eight prescriptions. The escalating costs of pharmaceuticals are driving up health care costs and premiums in both the employer based and individual market.
There are more than 670,000 AARP Members in Minnesota and many of them struggle every day to afford needed and life-saving medications. High drug costs hurt everyone; not only those who rely on prescription drugs for their health and chronic conditions, but all of us who are paying higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs for health insurance including Taxpayers who help fund our public programs.
There are several bill pending at the State Capitol that seek to address the impact high drug costs have on our state. Two in particular represent key first steps to address the escalating cost of prescription drugs
End Price Gouging (HF 4/SF 272) This bill would prohibit drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors from price gouging. Minnesota should empower the state Attorney General to take action against drug manufacturers and wholesalers who price gouge essential off-patent or generic drugs with increases of 50% or more.
Require Price Transparency (HF 704) Under this legislation drug manufacturers would be required to provide greater transparency over price increases for existing drugs, new drugs, and newly acquired drugs. In most cases the law would require the manufacturer of a drug whose prices increase by more than 10% in a 12-month period or more than 16% in a 24-month period to report information about the increase to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). This information will be available publicly on the MDH website, so that anyone can learn about what goes into the pricing of drugs and associated increases. Failure to comply with these reporting requirements could result in a fine to the drug manufacturer of $10,000 per drug, per day.
Rx Affordability Act (SF 353) This bill creates a prescription drug affordability commission that is charged with setting rates for prescription drugs to protect consumers, state and local governments, health plan companies, providers, pharmacies, and other health care system stakeholders from excessive costs.
Minnesota families can’t afford to keep paying for prescription drugs that cost more money than they make in a year.
If you want to help AARP fight big PhRMA at the State Capitol and in Washington contact Meghan Redmond to find out more.