FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 03/15/2021
Rep. Oliverson Files H.B. 18 to Provide Uninsured Texans Access to Discount Drugs
Austin, Texas— State Rep. Tom Oliverson, M.D. (Cypress) filed legislation that would allow uninsured Texans access to discount prescription drugs through a new state program. House Bill 18 would direct the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to negotiate with drug manufacturers on behalf of Texans without health insurance. This bill could potentially lower the monthly costs of drugs like insulin by up to 70% for the state's over 5 million uninsured.
"Drug prices have become the fastest growing segment of health care costs," Dr. Oliverson says, "and allowing uninsured Texans access to discounted prescription drugs will dramatically increase affordability."
House Speaker Dade Phelan has established access to discounted drugs for uninsured patients as one of his legislative priorities this session. If enacted, H.B. 18 could significantly relieve the prescription drug burden on uninsured Texans.
Drug expenditures have skyrocketed in recent years, with list prices growing by 159% between 2007 and 2018. Between 1996 and 2019, the list price of a single insulin drug increased by over 1300%. The insured are somewhat insulated from these list price hikes because of the work of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), who work with insurers to aggressively negotiate rebates from manufacturers on brand name drugs. Those rebates can range from 20-70% and increase affordability for the insured, but for the uninsured, no such rebating exists.
H.B. 18 will give uninsured Texans access to the same discounts enjoyed by the insured. This will be made possible by a new HHSC program in which a PBM is contracted to negotiate on behalf of the uninsured. Texans without insurance will qualify, and through this program will be able to pay a discounted cash price for drugs.
For any questions or concerns contact Eiman Siddiqui at Eiman.Siddiqui@House.Texas.Gov or 512.463.0661.