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State Prescription Drug Affordability Review Boards, Weight Loss Drug Insurance Coverage & More

February 21, 2024 (2 min read)

States Addressing High Drug Costs with Prescription Drug Affordability Review Boards

Since 2017 at least 11 states have passed laws creating prescription drug affordability review boards, some of which have the authority to implement cost-cutting measures for high-cost drugs for both private- and public-sector consumers, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

Last year Colorado’s board, created in 2021, selected several drugs used to manage conditions including cystic fibrosis, HIV and psoriasis for price review with respect to all residents, not just public employees.

Last month Maryland’s board created a list of over 2,000 drugs that could be reviewed specifically for public sector consumption. But some local advocacy groups and elected officials are urging the state to expand those cost reviews to include all consumers.

More than a dozen states are also considering legislation this year that would allow their prescription review boards to set upper payment limits for drugs. (ROUTE FIFTY)

States Want Insurers to Cover Weight Loss Drugs

Legislation that would require insurers to cover GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy for weight loss have been introduced in at least 10 states. The wildly popular drugs are costing state Medicaid systems hundreds of millions of dollars, but Medicaid programs only cover them for treating obesity in 16 states. (PLURIBUS NEWS)

Workplace Violence Problem Extends Throughout Hospitals

Canopy, makers of the Canopy Direct, a “discreet duress alerting system” used by roughly 200,000 health care workers at 800 facilities across the country, said its devices logged 22,000 requests for immediate assistance due to a threat or act of violence last year. The company said the incidents occurred “throughout every part of the hospital” and involved more than 10% of staff in every role “from nurses to physicians, to cafeteria and gift shop workers.” Those findings are consistent with recent warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others about rising violence against health care workers. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

Top MN Officials Back Medical Debt Reform Bill

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (DFL), Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (DFL) and AG Keith Ellison (DFL) are backing legislation that would prevent medical debt from accruing interest, being reported to credit bureaus or being transferred to surviving spouses, as well as prohibit health care providers from denying care to patients with unpaid bills, among other things. Sen. Liz Boldon (DFL), who will author the legislation in her chamber, said it isn’t complete yet, and she declined to release a draft version. (MINNESOTA REFORMER)

IA House Committee Advances Bill to Allow Birth Control Without Prescription

Iowa’s House Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill (HSB 642) that would allow pharmacists to dispense birth control without a prescription. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has been pushing for the legislation since her 2018 campaign, and Democratic lawmakers have generally been supportive of the idea, but measures have repeatedly failed to make it through the Republican-controlled legislature. Rep. Devon Wood (R), a member of the Health and Human Services subcommittee that advanced HSB 642, said she was optimistic it would reach the governor’s desk this time. (QUAD CITY TIMES, LEXISNEXIS STATE NET)

—Compiled by SNCJ Managing Editor KOREY CLARK

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