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Pharmacy benefit manager oversight agreement approved in conference committee

Rep. Alice Mann comments on her bill, SF278, during floor debate May 9. The bill would require licensure of pharmacy benefit managers. House Photography file photo

(CORRECTION - The story intially stated the Board fo Pharmacy would be the licensing entity. It is the Department of Commerce.)

REFILED May 16, 2019: A conference committee focused on improving the oversight of pharmacy benefit managers finished its work Wednesday.

Sponsored by Rep. Alice Mann (DFL-Lakeville) and Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska), HF728/SF278* would require PBMs operating in Minnesota to be licensed by the Commerce Department, which would allow the state to impose requirements in areas including network adequacy and transparency.

The committee’s report represents an extensive, bipartisan, bicameral effort, Mann said.

It will return to the House and Senate floors for re-passage.

“This is, at the end of the day, not about throwing anybody under the bus,” Jensen said. “This is about trying to make something better. … This is the first step in trying to get things more transparent.”

The House and Senate bills were similar in many areas, and others were amended to merge Senate and House language, like with the bill’s transparency provisions.

House language was removed that could have given employers access to information about patient cost sharing and the quantity of drugs paid for, which, in some cases, may have inadvertently revealed private medical information, Jensen said.

Information needed to make informed legislative decisions and assess the effectiveness of the bill would still be available to the Legislature. The decision about which information should be collected and how it should be protected was shaped by discussions with shareholders, Mann said.

Senate conferees commended Mann for a new provision that would lay out explicit data protection standards for information collected by the Commerce Department as part of the PBMs’ required transparency reports.

“I think we, as a Legislature, have this unique position trying to hold people accountable, which requires information, but also to protect the information we collect,” Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) said.

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