Faith leaders and healthcare advocates from across Maryland joined Senate President Pro Tempore Katherine Klausmeier (District 8 – Baltimore County) Thursday as she detailed her priority legislation to create a prescription drug affordability panel to monitor costs of medication prices.
The legislation (Senate Bill 759) would create a five-person review board with representatives of the Governor, Attorney General, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Delegates, and a Chairperson jointly appointed by both the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Delegates. In an attempt to lower and stabilize prescription costs, these members would examine the costs of prescriptions which enter the market at a cost of $30,000 or more annually. The board would also be charged with reviewing known prescriptions whose costs increase by $3,000 or more annually or per course of treatment if that time frame is less than 12 months.
In support of the legislation, a release from the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative stated: “Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them, and this board will protect the public by setting fair and affordable costs for lifesaving medications.” The organization summarizes the need for the legislation by stating: “High costs can prevent Maryland patients from accessing the prescription drugs they need, cause significant affordability issues for the state, and threaten public health.”
“It comes to a point when everyone needs medicine in their lives,” said Klausmeier. She followed: “If you can’t afford it, it doesn’t do you any good.”
Joining President Pro Tempore Klausmeier is sponsoring the legislation is the only medical doctor in the Maryland Senate, Dr. Clarence Lam (District 12 – Howard and Baltimore Counties). The legislation also boasts broad support from numerous advocacy organizations including the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative as well as local chapters of both the NAACP and the AARP.
Senate Bill 759 has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee and a hearing in the committee is scheduled for March 6th. House Bill 768 (the companion cross-file of Senate Bill 759) has been assigned to the House Health and Government Operations Committee. A hearing in that committee is also scheduled for March 6th.