Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
As Congress stalls in its efforts to address high pharmaceutical costs, states are increasingly tackling the issue on their own (Source: “Absent Federal Action, States Take the Lead on Curbing Drug Costs,” Kaiser Health News, September 29, 2017).
Despite industry opposition, a variety of bills are working their way through state governments. California, Nevada, New York, and Maryland have all passed legislation meant to undercut rising drug prices.
In Maryland, for example, a new law, which focuses on generic and off-patent drugs, empowers the state’s attorney general to step in if a drug’s price climbs 50% or more in a single year. The company must justify the hike. If the attorney general still finds the increase unwarranted, he or she can file suit in state court. Manufacturers face a fine of up to $10,000 for price gouging. A New York law on the books since spring allows officials to cap what its Medicaid program will pay for medications. If companies don’t sufficiently discount a drug, a state review will assess whether the price is out of step with medical value.
The state-level momentum raises the possibility, analysts say, that a patchwork of bills across the country could pave the way for more comprehensive national action. States feel the squeeze of these steep price tags in Medicaid and state employee benefit programs, and that applies pressure to find solutions.