STATE HOUSE — Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation that would create a prescription drug affordability board to protect Rhode Islanders from the high costs of prescription drug products.
The proposed legislation (2020-H 7121) would task the board with investigating and comprehensively evaluating drug prices for Rhode Islanders and possible ways to reduce them to make them more affordable.
“With prescription drug prices at an all-time high, state government has to come up with innovative ways to rein in drug spending,” said Representative McNamara, who chairs the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. “This board will identify when a drug’s cost could create affordability issues either for patients or Rhode Island’s health care system. Armed with this information, the board will identify drugs that may present affordability challenges.”
The board would consist of five members, along with alternate members, one appointed by the governor, one by the president of the Senate, one by the speaker of the House, one by the attorney general and one appointed jointly by the speaker and Senate president who would chair the board.
In addition to the board, the bill will also create a Prescription Drug Stakeholder Council, which will offer stakeholder input to guide the Board’s decision-making. The council would comprise members from various backgrounds and associations, including representatives of drug corporations, health insurance providers, healthcare advocacy groups, researchers, labor unions, doctors, nurses, dentists, hospitals, pharmacists, biotechnology companies and other stakeholders.
“The board would work in consultation with the stakeholder council to study and report on the pharmaceutical distribution and payment system,” explained Representative McNamara. “Based on that information, the board would determine whether to conduct a cost review of the drugs and determine whether it creates affordability challenges for patients and other stakeholders.”
The board would be required to report annually on the legality, obstacles, and benefits of setting upper payment limits on prescription drug products in the state; and would make recommendations for legislation necessary to make prescription drugs more affordable in Rhode Island.
The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence), Bernard A. Hawkins (D-Dist. 53, Smithfield, Glocester), K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and James B. Jackson (D-Dist. 26, West Warwick, Coventry Warwick, has been referred to the Health, Education and Welfare Committee.