Senate approves DiMario’s bill to create a drug affordability commission


STATE HOUSE — The Senate today voted to approve a bill from Sen. Alana M. DiMario to create a drug affordability commission to save patients and state entities money on prescription drugs.

The bill, which is part of the Senate’s HEALTH Initiative of legislative priorities, now heads to the House where Rep. Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence) has introduced companion legislation (2024-H 8220).

“In order to control costs within our health care system we need to think creatively and draw from the experiences of our neighboring states,” said Senator DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham), who works as a licensed mental health counselor in private practice. “Limiting the costs of prescription drugs is vital for patient access and to maintain the sustainability of our health care system overall. This bill gives us another tool to rein in costs for patients and state agencies, following a successful model that has been used across the country.”

This legislation (2024-S 2719) would create a drug affordability commission to review and manage drug prices. The commission would receive and review manufacturers’ submissions and determine whether the cost of a drug under review is affordable. If the commission finds that the cost in Rhode Island is not affordable to state health care systems and patients, it would establish an affordable payment rate for the drug for all state programs, local governments, commercial health plans, pharmacies, wholesalers and distributors. These covered entities would be prohibited from paying more for the drugs than the commission established rate.

It would also establish an advisory board consisting of stakeholders representing a wide range of perspectives on health and prescription drugs to provide advice to the commission.

The bill draws on legislation that has been enacted in nine different states, including neighboring Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and New York. Rhode Island is one of 18 states considering similar bills this year, as states look for new ways to control rising prescription drug costs.

According to a 2023 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 31% of Americans have not taken their medications as prescribed because of cost. And because prescriptions make up around 11% of total health care spending according to the US Government Accountability Office, high costs lead to higher premiums for private insurance and higher Medicare and Medicaid spending.



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