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Florida Senate panel backs restrictions on pharmacy benefit managers

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
News Service of Florida
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

In a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Senate committee Monday backed a wide-ranging proposal that would place restrictions on pharmacy benefit managers.

The Senate Health Policy Committee approved the bill (SB 1550), while the House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee is slated to take up its version (HB 1509) on Tuesday.

Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are often described as “middlemen” in the health care system, as they play key roles such as negotiating with drug manufacturers, paying claims and building pharmacy networks.

Groups such as independent pharmacies have long complained about pharmacy benefit managers.

Senate sponsor Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, said the bill includes steps such as preventing requirements that patients use pharmacies affiliated with pharmacy benefit managers or that they receive drugs through the mail.

“I’ve been in this fight a very long time, and today is a very good day. … For me, the most important part of this bill is transparency,” Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said. “We need to know exactly what is happening. We need to know where our money is going. And we need to make sure that the patient is at the center of what we do.”

But Connor Rose, senior director of state affairs for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a PBM-industry group, said pharmacy benefit managers are hired by employers to take steps such as negotiating drug prices and developing pharmacy networks.

Rose said he wants to ensure the legislation doesn’t lead to “unintended consequences down the line that would result in higher plan costs for employers (and) their employees, who would see those increases in higher premiums, diminished benefits.”
Copyright 2023 Health News Florida.

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