Dozens of states across the U.S. are applying intense pressure to lower the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs. States are introducing measures that range from rate ceilings to drug importation, AARP reported.
Last year Americans spent an estimated $535 billion on prescription drugs, which marks a 50% price hike since 2010, according to a CBS report.States across the U.S. are reeling from these soaring drug costs, which hit them hardest through Medicaid as well as public employee health plans and other health care programs.
"States have balanced budgets, and they're reeling from unpredictable and rapid drug price increases,” said Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), a group of policymakers, according to AARP. They cannot wait for fixes to occur at federal level. The time to act is now.
Last year saw 178 bills relating to these escalating drug costs introduced by state legislators but of these, only a handful will go on to become law. States are now looking at employing various state-level tactics to turn back the tide on escalating prescription drug costs, as reported by AARP.
1. Rate ceilings
One way to tackle the mounting drug costs is by setting payment ceilings for expensive pharmaceuticals and brand-names, which would prevent insurers from paying more than the required amount for these drugs. This year alone has seen such bills introduced to 14 states.
2. Supply-chain oversight
Some policymakers are pushing for bills that would specifically regulate the pharmacy benefit managers who work with insurers and companies to administer drug plans and have been criticized for their roles in negotiating prices. Other state efforts include introducing "transparency bills" that would force these pharmacy benefit managers as well as insurers and manufacturers to fully disclose drug prices.
3. Drug Importation
Some states are looking at importing their drugs. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis first proposed this in February, when he suggested his state be allowed to obtain its prescription drugs wholesale from Canada. Several other states have since expressed interest in adopting a similar approach. At issue is that Canada may not be able to meet the demand if more states opted for this route, noted Stacie B. Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.
4. Bulk Purchasing
California Governor. Gavin Newsom proposed another solution that would allow his state to directly negotiate with drug manufacturers by bringing to the table the promise of bulk purchasing for Medicaid programs, prisons and government workers. The theory is that better deals can be negotiated by pooling together all the Medicaid recipients and several states have expressed interests in the plan.
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