From the Kent Reporter

With final Senate votes Monday, two bills sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, to curb sharply rising prescription drug prices have now passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan support and will go to the governor for his signature.

“Prescription drug costs are out of control,” Keiser said. “Our constituents can’t wait. The taxpayers can’t wait. This is a major step forward to cut the prices that patients have to pay.

“We have a responsibility to keep vital prescriptions affordable. I’ve been working for months with a broad range of stakeholders on this legislation, and I’m pleased that it has attracted bipartisan support.”

The bills that the Senate passed today take on insulin costs as well as costs for the most expensive prescriptions and those that are increasing in price the fastest.

SB 6087 will cap out-of-pocket cost to patients for insulin at $100 per month. It passed unanimously on a vote of 48-0.

SB 6088 will establish a prescription drug affordability board that would review prices and price increases to shine a spotlight on areas where pharmaceutical companies are putting profits ahead of people’s health. It passed on a vote of 31-17.

The Prescription Drug Affordability Board will determine whether the costs of a high-priced drug significantly exceed the value it provides to patients. If the board determines that the cost is not excessive, then it will simply recommend ways to make the drug more accessible to patients. If the board determines that the cost is excessive, it will ask the drug manufacturer to reduce the cost of the drug. If the manufacturer refuses, the board will post online the value that it calculates the drug actually has.

In addition, the bill requires the board to provide the newly created Health Care Cost Transparency Board (HB 2457) with tools to establish cost growth benchmarks for prescription drugs.

A third Keiser proposal, SB 6113, would have created a centralized purchasing process for insulin based on the approach used by the state to purchase childhood vaccines. It did not pass, but the policy was incorporated in amended form into HB 2662. That bill creates the Total Cost of Insulin Work Group, which will examine various strategies to bring down the cost of insulin long-term, including the possibility of creating a central purchasing plan.