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The War on Drug . . . Prices

In the United States, we pay more for prescription drugs than anywhere else world wide. Some medications that are sold for several dollars per dosage internationally are sold for hundreds of dollars per dosage here in the States. President Trump has repeatedly mentioned the problem and in May his administration released his a blueprint for reducing prescription prices entitled “American Patients First.” Last week, President Trump signed two bills to help raise consumer awareness of prescription drug prices.

The Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, sponsored by Maine Senator Susan Collins, is the first federal ban on gag orders, allowing pharmacists to inform clients of less expensive alternatives, such as generic prescriptions or not using insurance. The Know the Lowest Price Act, sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow, prevents Medicare drug plans from including gag clauses in their pharmacy contracts. Refreshingly, both bills passed the House by voice vote and the Senate with bipartisan, near-unanimous majorities.

In regards to the legislation, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, “Any ideas that could bring down costs while respecting innovation and patient choice are on the table,” he said. “Make no mistake: The American drug pricing market is already changing. But it’s going to have to change a lot more until American patients get the deal they deserve.” President Trump is also looking to help foster competition to drive down prescription prices. “It’s called the law of supply and demand. They [Pharmaceutical companies] didn’t want to have that. But now we have that and it’s going to lower drug prices,” as Trump stated at the legislation’s signing. Referring to patients, he also said, “They’ll be able to see pricing. They’ll be able to see where they should go. And as they start leaving certain pharmacies, those pharmacies will be dropping their prices.”

Americans should start to see the benefits of this legislation after both bills take effect January 1st, 2019. In the meantime, preparations for the November 1-December 15, 2018 open enrollment period for 2019 health insurance plans are almost complete and marketplace plans are being announced. During open enrollment, give American Exchange a call at 1(888)995-1674 for assistance enrolling in health insurance through the marketplace. Licensed agents will be ready to assist you.

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