RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia lawmakers are reviving an effort to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug prices.
It’s among the priorities members of the General Assembly are spotlighting on the eve of the 2023 session.
The bill would create an independent review board of health professionals that would set upper price caps on certain high-demand medications. States like Maryland have already taken similar steps.
Supporters say it would expand protections for those who rely on insurance plans operated and regulated in Virginia, like Medicaid.
Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), one of the bill sponsors, said it mimics federal reform for Medicare recipients that passed in Congress last year. He is not sure if it will get bipartisan buy in from the General Assembly but he predicts the bill will face push back from other sources.
“There are people who make profits in this industry and they are not going to be fans of this bill. So I expect that opposition and we’re just going to have to get over it,” Petersen said.
Delegate Karrie Delaney (D-Fairfax), another bill sponsor, said one in four Virginians report having to stop taking medication as prescribed because they can’t afford it.
“No one should have to choose between medication that will save their life and the roof over their head,” Delaney said.
Jenaya Moore, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University, said the price of her must-have inhaler has tripled since she started dealing with severe asthma.
“Implementation of this board would help to, not only alleviate my financial burden, but a lot of other Virginia families across the state and it wouldn’t have me sitting and debating if I have to choose between paying for my medication or investing in higher education,” Moore said.
If the bill passes, Petersen said it would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.