Vermont Business Magazine This afternoon, President Trump signed into law legislation co-authored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that eliminates so-called “gag rules” imposed on pharmacists that prevent them from steering their customers to the lowest cost option when filling a prescription. Currently, contractual requirements imposed on pharmacists by pharmacy benefit managers forbid them from informing customers that their cost would be lower if they paid out of pocket rather than using their insurance plan. Pharmacists violating these rules have been subjected to significant penalties.
“In a time of skyrocketing prescription drug prices, it defies common sense that pharmacists are prohibited from helping customers save money on their medications,” said Welch. “This new law empowers pharmacists to steer customers to the lowest cost option when filling a prescription.”
Welch’s legislation, the Know the Cost Act (H.R. 6733), is the House version of two bills signed into law this afternoon that collectively prohibit gag clauses imposed on pharmacists:
- The Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act prohibits an insurer or pharmacy benefit manager from restricting a pharmacy’s ability to provide drug price information to a plan enrollee when there is a difference between the cost of the drug under the plan and the cost of the drug when purchased without insurance. This bill will apply to plans offered in the individual market, including through exchanges, and plans sponsored by private employers.
- The Know the Lowest Price Act provides this same protection for individuals who are covered by Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans.
Welch co-authored the House bill with Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.). The legislation passed the House on September 25th, and the Senate versions of both bills passed the Senate earlier that month.
Welch is a senior member on the House Energy & Commerce Committee and co-chair of the House Affordable Prescription Drug Task Force. He is the lead House sponsor of legislation to mandate Medicare Part D price negotiation and author of legislation to allow for the importation of safe prescription drugs from Canada.
Source: Welch 10.10.2018