From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
On April 27 the United States Supreme Court will hear a case out of Arkansas, and depending on the outcome, it could save enormous amounts of money for local pharmacies and anyone who takes prescription medications when they get sick.
The legal battle started five years ago, when the legislature passed Act 900 to regulate the business practices of pharmacy benefit managers.
They’re also known as PBM’s, and if you never heard of them, you’re not alone.
Hardly anybody has heard of them, and almost nobody understands what they do.
They’re middlemen between health insurance companies and pharmacies.
They negotiate prices for prescription drugs, which is an incentive for pharmacies to hold down prices. Ultimately, consumers like you and me should see the benefits in lower prices for medications.
However, numerous local pharmacies have said that the low rates negotiated by PBM’s have forced them out of business, because the reimbursements are less than the cost of providing the drugs.
Act 900 was supposed to put a stop to those practices, and other practices, such as PBM’s negotiating different rates for different pharmacies, and favoring pharmacies with which they have a business affiliation.
As soon as Act 900 took effect, it was challenged by the pharmacy benefit managers. We expect the Supreme Court to issue a final ruling in June.
Arkansas has been joined by 31 other states and organizations representing thousands of community pharmacists.
The outcome of the case may result in dramatic changes in how prices are set for prescription medicine. If so, it will change how much ordinary consumers have to spend on health care.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.