September 17, 2022
The Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Joe Biden last month caps the cost of insulin at $35 per month for seniors who have Medicare, beginning next year. West Virginians say they approve the move - but many are struggling to cover the costs of other prescription medications. According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, the Mountain State's per capita prescription drug cost increases outpaced national averages every day between 2001 and 2014, faster than all other health-care spending. Wood County resident Lisa Doyle-Parsons said she's lost family members because of the high cost of doctor-prescribed medications. "I at 55 have outlived three of my five brothers," said Doyle-Parsons, "because they could not afford to have the medications they needed to keep them alive and to give them a quality of life." A Morning Consult/PhRMA poll released earlier this summer found more than 80% of voters said health insurance companies - and large "middleman" corporations known as PBMs that negotiate prices between insurers and pharmacies - are directly responsible for the high cost of prescription drugs. Mark Blum - executive director of the advocacy group America's Agenda: Health Care for All, and managing director of the America's Agenda Healthcare Education Fund - said many states have passed laws aimed at increasing transparency on prescription drug pricing. Blum explained that one reform, called a reverse auction, requires PBM companies to bid on state contracts in order to create competition. He said states such as New Jersey and Oregon have saved billions of dollars. "West Virginia hasn't looked at the reverse auction yet," said Blum, "but perhaps it will in the future. " Since 2017, lawmakers in more than twenty-five states have introduced drug-pricing transparency legislation.
References: The high cost of prescription drugs: causes and solutions Rajkumar/the Blood Cancer Journal 6/23/20 West Virginias Prescription Transparency Law Can Address Rising Drug Costs the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy 6/1/20