Proponents of this new bill say it could save Montanans about $8 million in the first year by cutting out the middle man, and opponents say it could increase the final price due to spending more money on administrative fees.
Senate Bill 71 was written from scratch by the State Auditor's Office to reduce prescription drug costs in Montana. Republican Senator Al Olszewski from Kalispell, who is sponsoring the bill, says it’s going to regulate the middle man and hold insurance companies accountable for the way they do business with other companies to provide pharmacy benefits.
“So, what we’re doing is a very unique, one of kind, made in Montana way, and we are going to regulate the pharmacy benefit managers through the insurance companies. And I wish we could do it some other way, but it is the only way to do it, and maybe the only successful way to do it currently in the United States,” said Olszewski.
Kristine Grow, Senior Vice President of Communications, for America’s Health Insurance Plans said in part, instead of lowering prices for patients it would actually increase the overall price due to higher administrative fees, and it would give more money back to the industry who is responsible for the high prices on medications in the first place.
Lowering prescription drug costs is being heard on both the national and state level. Senator Jon Tester introduced a bill like this on the federal level, and it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in June of 2018.