Senator Tom Killion (R-Chester and Delaware) this week introduced legislation to substantially lower the cost of prescription medications for Pennsylvania residents, and his proposal is part of a new national effort on reducing drug prices state by state.
Killion’s Prescription Drug Cost Reduction Act, introduced as Senate Bill 1315, would tie prescription drug prices in Pennsylvania to the much lower prices charged to Canadian consumers. This proposal is based on model legislation unveiled in August by the National Academy for State Health Policy, one of the country’s leading healthcare policy organizations.
In introducing his bipartisan legislation, Killion noted the United States has the highest prescription drug prices in the world and that nearly 20 percent of the country’s healthcare spending is directed toward prescription medications.
“Pennsylvanians should never have to choose between their medication and paying their electric bill. They should never have to decide if they’ll refill a prescription or put food on their table,” said Killion. “Our drug prices are beyond excessive. My bill will change that.”
Killion’s legislation would require the state to create a list of the 250 most costly prescription drugs every year. Pennsylvania’s Insurance Department would then establish a maximum rate paid by health insurance providers for each medication on the list based on Canadian pricing data.
“Pennsylvanians can’t import drugs from Canada, but we can import their prices,” Killion said of his proposal.
The legislation would also require that premium reductions resulting from lower medication costs paid by insurers be passed along to consumers, and fines would be levied against insurers for violations.
Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, provided an overview of their organization’s new model legislation incorporated in Killion’s bill.
“This legislation sets up a simple, low cost mechanism to assure purchasers in the state achieve the same savings as Canada on costly drugs, purchased from the same pharmacies consumers use today. Setting payment rates – not prices – is akin to how we pay for all other health services and is designed to assure any legal challenges can be overcome,” said Riley.
“States can’t wait for long promised federal action. This law would bring immediate savings on the most costly drugs,” Riley added.
Killion noted that his legislation comes on the heels of a 2019 law he supported that creates a state-based health insurance exchange expected to save Pennsylvanians $250 million annually.
“We must continue working to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. My new prescription drug legislation will help us achieve this goal for our families,” Killion said.
Shannon E. Royer