Governor's Prescription Drug Task Force Hears Challenges,
Strategies from Diverse Stakeholders
Madison, Wis - The Governor's Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices today heard how prescription drug costs have impacted some of our vulnerable populations and learned about some of the strategies that other states have employed to lower their costs.
The task force convened via videoconference for the second consecutive day (information about yesterday's meeting can be found here). Today's session focused on how the issue of drug affordability can impact people differently based on factors such as their age, income, and medical condition; on some of the challenges to reducing prescription drug costs; and on issues such as consumer access points for lower-cost prescription medication. Presenters included:
- Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium, an inter-state agreement between the states of Oregon and Washington that allows state agencies, local governments, businesses, labor organizations, and uninsured consumers to pool their purchasing power to get better prices on prescription drugs
- OptumRx, a pharmacy benefits manager
- Wisconsin Pharmacy Cost Study Committee, a collection of representatives from the Department of Employee Trust Funds and state agencies that purchase prescription drugs for different populations; this committee has been discussing ways to that state agencies could collaborate to get better prices on drugs for the populations they serve
- American Association of Retired Persons, the membership organization for people age 50 and over
- American Diabetes Association, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent and cure diabetes and to support people affected by diabetes
- Vivent Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV
“Today we were fortunate to hear from a diverse group of stakeholders about how the cost of prescription drugs affects the people they serve," said Task Force Chair and Deputy Insurance Commissioner Nathan Houdek. “These discussions showed how affordability impacts populations differently and highlighted creative solutions that other states and stakeholders have used to lower costs. Today's meeting reinforced the need to identify solutions that can bring down the cost of prescription medication for Wisconsinites, particularly our most vulnerable."
“We're advocating on behalf of the countless people with diabetes who struggle to afford their insulin daily," said Gary Dougherty, Director of State Government Affairs for the American Diabetes Association®. “It's time to reduce the financial burden on Wisconsin diabetes patients who need insulin to survive. No individual in need of life-saving medications should ever go without due to exorbitant costs or accessibility issues."
“After two years of meeting and research, the Wisconsin Pharmacy Cost Study Committee determined that our two main barriers are inter-agency price transparency and the high cost of drugs themselves," said Renee Walk, Lead Policy Advisor, Strategic Health Policy, Department of Employee Trust Funds. “Theoretically there is money to be saved, but the necessary changes to reach that savings are outside of our scope of control."
In August 2019, Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order #39 establishing a task force on reducing prescription drug prices. This group was to analyze information relating to the development, pricing, distribution, and purchasing of prescription drugs; review actions already taken by Wisconsin and other states to reduce prescription drug prices; and identify opportunities to coordinate with other states and the federal government. Ultimately, the group will recommend potential actions that can be taken to reduce prescription drug prices in Wisconsin.
Members of the public are encouraged to follow the task force's work through its website, https://rxdrugtaskforce.wi.gov/pages/home.aspx. The site includes links to minutes from past meetings, recordings, and future meeting details. The task force is to convene again on Aug. 25 to discuss recommendations to forward on to the governor later this year.