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Weekly Address — July 3, 2019

From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.

A year ago the legislature met in special session to approve new regulations for pharmacy benefit managers.

Don’t worry. If you have no idea what a pharmacy benefit manager does, you’re in good company. Very few people do.

But your local pharmacist knows very well what they do.

Basically, they act as a middleman. They contract with health insurance companies and try to get the best possible prices for prescription drugs.

If they do their jobs well, it makes a world of difference in the pricing of your prescription medications, especially when you consider that they negotiate prices for enormous volumes of pharmaceuticals.

The problems arose because of a lack of oversight and transparency.

Pharmacists began taking a financial loss on sales of generic drugs, because they were locked into reimbursement rates that didn’t cover their costs.

It came to a head last year when the legislature met in special session to put pharmacy benefit managers under the oversight of the Arkansas Insurance Department.

The law we passed prohibits PBM’s from paying their own pharmacists higher reimbursements than what they pay other pharmacist in their network.

They cannot impose a gag order on their clients, which used to prevent pharmacists from shopping around for the best deal.

Earlier this year, the Insurance Department issued its first two licenses to pharmacy benefit managers.

Just recently, the legislative audit committee voted to conduct a survey of all the work done that pharmacy benefit managers do for state health care programs, such as Medicaid. We want to make sure they are following all the appropriate rules and regulations, and getting the best deal for the state.

Potentially, it could save Arkansas Medicaid millions of dollars.

Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a very happy Fourth of July. The birthday of our nation is a good time to remember the numerous freedoms we enjoy, and the sacrifices of the men and women who serve to protect our liberty.

I’m glad we live in the greatest country on earth.

From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.


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