California Chamber of Commerce says state bill would boost health costs

The California Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday it is opposed to a proposed health care bill because it would restrict the ability of health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) to control health care costs and would place strict caps on prescription drug copayments, therefore shifting costs, encouraging utilization of expensive medications and reducing flexibility.

The measure, AB 339, was written by Assembly Member Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park) and is slated to be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Aug.17.  

“AB 339 does nothing to lower the actual cost of prescription drugs. Instead, it caps what an enrollee can be asked to pay out-of-pocket for a month’s supply of a prescription drug at $250 for most enrollees,” the chamber said. “This means that health care issuers will have to pay a larger share of the purchase price for affected prescription drugs and spread that additional cost out to all enrollees and purchasers in the form of higher premiums.”

The chamber said it agrees with Gordon’s concerns about the ability of patients to afford medications, but capping out-of-pocket costs for expensive medications and undermining the ability of insurers and PBMs to negotiate better prices with drug manufacturers is not the right move.

“AB 339 avoids the fundamental problem, the underlying cost of prescription drugs, and instead seeks to impose a complex regulatory scheme to shield enrollees from drug costs and reasonable utilization management,” the chamber said. “In the long run, this will increase health care costs for everyone, further limiting access to preventative care and life-saving treatments.”

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California Chamber of Commerce 1215 K Street, Suite 1400 Sacramento, CA 95814