Hearing today on prescription drug transparency bill

Empower Wisconsin | Feb. 5, 2020

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — The Assembly Committee on Health will hold a hearing this afternoon on a bill aimed at bringing transparency to Pharmacy Benefit Managers’ (PBMs) practices.

The hearing begins at 2 p.m. in Room 412 East, at the Capitol.

As Empower Wisconsin reported last week, the committee is expected to take up a substitute bill encompassing key changes to  Assembly Bill 114 and its Senate companion.

State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), chairman of the Health Committee, said lawmakers want a bill that provides prescription drug pricing transparency and more accountability.

PBMs are third-party administrators of prescription drug coverage for insurers and employers. Pharmacy Benefit Managers earn a fee for the services they provide, including developing and maintaining prescription drug lists (formularies), processing claims and negotiating discounts and rebates.

Sources say representatives from health care organizations, independent pharmacists and patients are expected to testify. So is state Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), who has worked with Sen. John Erpenbach (D-West Point) on the legislation. Schraa said his wife became ill taking an ineffective allergy medication that was on the list approved by prescription drug middlemen.

“My wife has a lot of allergies and some other health issues. The drugs that the PBM wanted her to try, in place of the one she was on, she is allergic to,” Schraa told Empower Wisconsin last month. He said he would comment further following the hearing.

Representatives from the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents the nation’s PBMs, have not returned Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment.

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