Recently, on the steps of the Missouri State Capitol, the Missouri Pharmacy Association (MPA) converged to highlight the recent successes and remaining challenges in the 2023 Legislative Session. Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists from across Missouri convened for a bipartisan discussion on healthcare policy.
Among the bills stalled is House Bill 197, sponsored by Rep. Dale Wright. It has languished in the rules committee for over a month. MPA asks the Missouri Legislature to push this bill forward and have a full and fair debate on the House floor.
The bill seeks to protect local communities by allowing patients to choose the pharmacy of their choice. It’s blocked by companies known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). PBMs were created for a valid purpose – to keep medication costs low, yet they have developed practices that leave patients and employees holding the bill. When left unchecked, PBMs have up charged customers and made prescriptions more expensive. Without a lack of transparency, PBMs will continue to raise costs for customers, which is why the Missouri Legislature must act on House Bill 197.
Loretta Boesing, a mother from St. Louis, was on hand at the gathering to tell her story – a story heard so often in the capital. Her son received a transplant and needed medications to recover, but PBMs left her struggling to figure out where she could get the medicine he needed at a reasonable cost. Many Midwest states have taken action to pass transparency regulations which have helped the price of medicines decline. The legislature needs to act and shed a light on the industry. Oklahoma and Ohio have recently acted by exposing PBM’s practices, and Missouri must do the same. Thank you to Rep. Wright for being a champion in the fight that we desperately need.
Ron Fitzwater is Cief Executive Officer of the Missouri Pharmacy Association