Michigan Association of Health Plans

Whitmer creates task force to reduce prescription drug costs

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order creating a bipartisan task force aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

The task force will be composed of leaders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Insurance and Financial Services, the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and the Legislature, according to a Friday news release.

The task force will recommend legislative and administrative actions to fight rising drug prices.

The average price of drugs prescribed to treat diabetes, heart disease, depression, and other common conditions has more than doubled over the past six years, the news release said, citing a report from NBC News.

“Nobody should have to choose between refilling their prescription and paying rent, but that’s the current reality for too many Michigan families,” Whitmer said.

“There are people who are already struggling to get by, who know that any day, they could get a diagnosis that would put them in severe medical debt. That has to change. This task force will take us one step closer to increasing transparency and lowering costs for Michiganders.”

The Prescription Drug Task Force will be housed within the MDHHS and will include Sen. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids; Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington; Rep. Angela Witwer, D-Delta Township; Rep. Padma Kuppa, D-Troy; and Rep. Hank Vaupel, R-Fowlerville.

“Right now, Michigan families are worried about how they’ll fill their prescriptions and put food on the table, or buy warm clothes for their kids to get through the winter,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said. “Our goal with the Prescription Drug Task Force is to lighten that burden for them. Everyone on this team is dedicated to lowering costs for Michigan families, and they’re ready to get to work.”

The preferred drug list on Whitmer’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal will also lower costs, according to the release.

Dominick Pallone, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, applauded the task force.

“Rising pharmaceutical costs are a major factor in increased health insurance costs in our state. MAHP has been a leader in pushing for increased transparency in drug pricing,” Pallone said. “We have compiled extensive amounts of data and information on the issue and look forward to sharing it with the commission and its members.”

The task force will submit a final report of findings and recommendations to Whitmer by August 15, 2020.

This article appeared in the Washington Examiner. Read more here.