Gov. Whitmer signs bills to help lower prescription drug costs

“No one should have to choose between purchasing food and an essential medication.”
Gov. Whitmer signs bills to help lower prescription drug costs
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 8:58 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Wednesday Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bills 4348, 4351, and 4352 into law.

The bills will help to lower prescription drug costs for Michiganders. The legislation follows recommendations made by the governor’s Prescription Drug Task Force.

Gov. Whitmer was joined by Meijer President and CEO, Rick Keyes, Representative Julie Calley (R-Portland), and Representative Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township).

“For too long, unlicensed pharmacy benefit managers have been able to engage in practices that drive up costs for Michiganders whose lives and health depend on critical prescription drugs like insulin,” Gov. Whitmer said. “This bill brings much-needed transparency to our healthcare system and is a testament to what we can do when we put Michiganders first.”

Rep. Witwer noted that drug prices have been escalating since she took office.

“No one should have to choose between purchasing food and an essential medication, least of all our seniors who have given so much to our communities,” Rep. Witwer said.

Also in attendance was Nancy Courtney, a retired registered nurse. Courtney, now a senior citizen, has worked in the metro Detroit area for over 60 years.

“I personally see the impact of prescription drug costs as I volunteer at the Detroit Area on Aging and St Frances Cabrini Clinic in Corktown,” Courtney told those in attendance. “The communities I serve through volunteering include many older adults like me who also welcome the reduction in prescription drug costs.”

Courtney echoed the words of Rep. Witwer, saying too many Michiganders are forced to choose between basic necessities and medications.

“This legislation is a step towards a Michigan where no family will have to choose between filling a prescription or putting food on the table,” she said. “I am thankful for the work of the legislature, Governor Whitmer, and the prescription drugs task force to pass this bill and lower costs for Michigan families.”

Read more on the bills signed into law:

House Bill 4348

House Bill 4348 provides for the licensure of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in Michigan by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS). The legislation:

  • Helps make necessary medications affordable for Michigan families,
  • Prohibits PBMs from practicing “spread pricing” in which PBMs drive up costs when reimbursing pharmacists for prescription drugs,
  • Prohibits PBMs from forcing pharmacists to sign “gag clauses” so that pharmacists can communicate openly and honestly with patients about options,
  • Charges DIFS with the responsibility to regulate PBMs licenses, and
  • Requires PBMs to file transparency reports with DIFS to ensure Michiganders have access to information about the backend cost and profits of the medications they are prescribed.

House Bill 4351

  • Prohibits a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) or carrier from:
  • Requiring a patient to pay a co-pay that is higher than the selling cost of the drug dispensed to him or her,
  • Excluding or discriminating against a pharmacy solely because the carrier does not have a vested financial interest in the pharmacy, or
  • Discriminating against 340B Program entities – the 340 Program is a federal program that provides medication to Medicaid patients at a discount.
  • Makes PBMs and health insurance carriers third-party administrators, requiring them to maintain a certificate of authority and follow TPA conduct requirements.

House Bill 4352

  • Allows pharmacists to provide the current selling price of a drug the pharmacy dispenses or comparative current selling prices of generic and brand name drugs it dispenses without being asked.
  • Prohibits pharmacies or pharmacists from agreeing to a contract that:
  • Prohibits disclosure of drug prices and comparative selling prices of generic and brand name drugs,
  • Violates the provisions of HB 4351 relating to 340B entities and carrier prohibitions, or
  • Prevents or interferes with a patient’s right to receive an eligible drug from a 340B entity.

House Bills 4348, 4351, and 4352 are based on recommendations provided by Gov. Whitmer’s Prescription Drugs Task Force. The Task Force worked with health policy experts, bipartisan members of the legislature, and stakeholders to discuss solutions to lower the costs of prescription medications for Michigan families.

Gov. Whitmer visited a Lansing Meijer to sign bills to help lower prescription drug costs.
Gov. Whitmer visited a Lansing Meijer to sign bills to help lower prescription drug costs.(Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

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