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California Lawmakers Act to Lower Cost of Prescription Drugs

PHOTO: The California State Assembly recently voted to limit co-pays on prescription drugs. AB 339 would put a monthly cap of about $275 on the cost of a 30-day prescription. Photo credit: Emily Roesly/Morguefile.
PHOTO: The California State Assembly recently voted to limit co-pays on prescription drugs. AB 339 would put a monthly cap of about $275 on the cost of a 30-day prescription. Photo credit: Emily Roesly/Morguefile.
June 9, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Californians could be paying much less for prescription drugs if a bill just passed by the state Assembly makes it past the Senate and the governor.

AB 339 would put a monthly cap of about $275 on the cost of a 30-day prescription, and prevent insurance companies from putting all the drugs for any one condition on the highest tier of cost sharing.

Anthony Wright, executive director of the nonprofit Health Access, which sponsored the bill, says people with insurance shouldn't be bankrupted by high co-pays.

"People with certain conditions, whether it be MS or HIV or Hepatitis C, find that the drugs are literally costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month in cost sharing," he says.

Opponents say insurance companies will simply raise premiums to make up the lost revenue.

Wright says the reforms are necessary and reasonable.

"Insurers have largely agreed to many of these protections in the Covered California negotiations already," says Wright. "We think these are appropriate to be extended to the millions of Californians not in Covered California, in employer-based coverage, or getting coverage through other means."

A similar bill passed the state Assembly last year, but stalled in the state Senate. Governor Jerry Brown has not taken a position on the bill.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA