Senate Committee Approves Bill Allowing Pharmacists to Tell Patients That a Drug is Cheaper if They Use Cash Instead of Insurance

Posted on July 25, 2018

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2018 — The Senate health committee today approved four important pieces of legislation, including a bill that will help Americans who are struggling to afford their prescriptions, and a bill that will encourage research to help treat sickle cell disease.

“Many Americans struggle to afford their prescriptions,” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. “Senator Collins’ bill ends ‘gag rules’ that prevent a pharmacist from telling a patient that a prescription is cheaper if the patient pays cash instead of using his or her insurance. The Committee has also held four bipartisan hearings on the high cost patients pay for prescription drugs, most recently to hear from Secretary Azar on the President’s blueprint to reduce the costs Americans pay for prescription drugs.

On the Sickle Cell Disease Research, Surveillance, Prevention and Treatment Act, Alexander said: “At least 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease, but the exact number is unknown because we do not have sufficient data. This bill will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to study sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders so we know how many people are affected by these conditions and implement strategies to help treat these diseases.”

Below are the bills approved by the committee today:

  • Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S. 2554)—Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine): This bill would ban “gag clauses” that prevent a pharmacist from telling a patient a drug may be cheaper if the patients  pays with cash instead of their insurance.
  • Congenital Heart Futures Act (H.R. 1222)—Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): If you’re the parent of a child who suffers from a congenital heart disease, this reauthorization is important because it will continue to support the research and data collection that is needed to better understand congenital heart disease.
  • Sickle Cell Disease Research, Surveillance, Prevention and Treatment Act (S. 2465)—Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.): This bill will encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to study sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders so we know how many people are affected by these conditions and so we can implement strategies to help treat these diseases and prevent and manage their complications.
  • Action for Dental Health Act (S. 3016)—Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.): This legislation supports states, dental associations, and community-based oral health programs to help prevent dental disease, and expands efforts to provide care to underserved patients.

 

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