New bill could help Georgians with portion of medicine rebates
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Patients, doctors, and insurance companies visit the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon to testify for and against House Bill 343.
House Bill 343 would require that pharmacy benefit managers pass 50% of drug rebates on to the patients who are buying the drugs. Right now that percentage is unregulated. This bill would target pharmacy benefit managers who act as a middleman between you and your insurance company. They’re tasked with looking for rebates, but end up taking a portion for themselves.
Some patients receiving medication testified they felt these companies are in it for profit, they’re in it for their lives.
Keyon Emami is living with Multiple Sclerosis- an autoimmune disorder, where the body attacks itself sometimes causing loss of vision or movement in a patient’s legs or arms. If he stays with his treatment path, his doctors say that he will stay in remission.
“It angers me, it makes me mad, we deserve better. When I walk in to get my annual check-up, I walk in. There are people on motorized scooters who are 30 years old. How is that okay- there are people in the exact position I am in, then they can’t afford their medications,” said Emami.
Officials say that 40% of people living with Multiple Sclerosis can’t afford their treatment so they change or stop treatment altogether. The National MS Association said that the cost of treatment has risen by $34,000 in less than 10 years- including Emani’s medication.
State Representative Mark Newton is the sponsor that carried the bill.
“There is profit involved for these middlemen who negotiate the discounts and essentially hide them from the patient and sometimes the employer who is paying for the insurance plan,” said Newton.
In 2021, those rebates and discounts totaled $236 billion. According to the Center for Insurance Policy and Research, there are 66 PBM companies, with the three largest controlling approximately 89% of the market.
There are only a few more days left in this legislative session. The Senate Health Committee was set to vote on the bill Wednesday, but the calendar was changed last minute.
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