NEWS FROM REP. JEREMY MUNSON - - DISTRICT 23-B
For Immediate Release
Contact: Margaret Martín
Thursday, June 18, 2019
GOVERNOR WALZ HOLDS SIGNING CEREMONY
FOR PHARMACY BENEFITS MANAGER BILL TODAY.
Bill Authored by Rep. Jeremy Munson
[ST. PAUL, MN, June 18, 2019] In a session marked by partisan stalemates, the Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) bill is an example of a single subject bill which succeeded despite the challenging political climate.
Rep. Jeremy Munson (Republican, Lake Crystal), co-authored the bill and was also chosen to be on the House and Senate conference committee. By providing transparency, the PBM bill aims at exposing and preventing kickbacks, price fixing, and steering within the pharmaceutical supply chain. Rep. Munson said, “Since my election, I have sought to bring price transparency to all levels of health care and health insurance, so patients can make informed decisions on what they are buying with their hard earned money. The complexity involved in prescription drug pricing is one of the largest challenges. This bill addresses that complexity by ensuring we have information about how drugs are priced and made available to consumers in Minnesota.”
Also included in the PBM bill is a provision championed by Munson last session, which allows pharmacists to display and charge patients the cash price for prescription drugs when the insurance company’s co-pay is higher. Currently, the pharmacists are under a gag order from the insurance companies and are forbidden to disclose the lower, cash price to insured patients. Last year, Governor Dayton vetoed Munson’s pharmacy price transparency bill, and this provision was included in the PBM bill signed by Governor Walz today.
PBMs are a little known but important entity in the health care system. They are positioned between the Health Insurance Organization, the Health Care Provider, and the pharmaceutical industry, to develop the “formularies” or lists of prescription medications insurers will cover. They are supposed to balance the costs, benefits, and the various interests of the different organizations, as well as their own.
The increasingly important role PBMS play and the lack of information about their decisions has led to calls for transparency on pricing and formularies. This session’s PBM bill was the first attempt at providing such transparency and accountability in an industry responsible for a growing percentage of our State’s healthcare costs.
The PBM bill goes into effect on July 1, 2019. In addition, Munson’s price transparency bill from last session, which requires doctors and clinics to post prices in their waiting room, also goes into effect July 1st of this year.