The House Health and Government Operations Committee voted 20-3 to approve House Bill 768, sponsored by Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. It would address the high cost of prescription drugs by setting limits on how much the state and local governments pay for high-costs medications.
“This is a major step forward in our effort to bring down the costs of prescription drugs in Maryland. We applaud the Health and Government Operations Committee for its vote and urge the full House, the Senate and Governor Hogan to support this bill,” said Maryland Citizens Health Initiative (MCHI) President Vincent DeMarco. “This bill would establish a new board that will help local and state governments rein in drug costs. This would be the first such drug board in the country, and Maryland is once again leading the nation on setting health care policy.”
“While this legislation will help government agencies curb drug costs, we will continue to push for legislation in coming years that will allow the board to set limits on drug costs for all Marylanders,” DeMarco said. “People are struggling to pay for lifesaving medications and we must continue to advocate for solutions to help them.”
To support the legislation, MCHI launched a major television ad campaign featuring Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. The ads are airing on Baltimore television stations and Montgomery County cable stations and running through the April 8 conclusion of the General Assembly session.
The ads make clear that regulating drug costs is not a new concept in Maryland. “Just like we regulate utility rates, we can regulate drug costs. It doesn’t burden taxpayers and has bipartisan support. It’s time to lower drug costs, now,” Glassman said in the television ads.
MCHI will also continue to run radio ads supporting the bill that feature seven county executives and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, including Howard County Executive Calvin Ball.