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Local legislator calls for bill lowering drug prices

Health insurance prices are increasing between five and ten percent in West Virginia for almost all plans in 2020, according to Insurance Commission data.
Health insurance prices are increasing between five and ten percent in West Virginia for almost all plans in 2020, according to Insurance Commission data.(WSAZ)
Published: Dec. 17, 2019 at 5:26 PM CST
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Last week, democrats in the U.S. house passed a measure aimed at lowering drug prices by requiring negotiations for the prices of certain drugs.

Tuesday, one local democratic legislator publicly called for the bill to become law.

State senator Jeff Smith of Eau Claire was joined by members of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

They were asking for passage of the lower drug costs now act. It would change the power the federal government has to directly negotiate drug prices for Medicare recipients.

While democrats feel the time for this is now, one local republican says this act is meddling with a free market system.

State Senator Jeff Smith says, “I just saw one on Facebook, of someone who posted a picture. They their price of their drug was $800 they weren't expecting, because they thought their insurance would cover it. Won't cover it. They had to give it back. They made that terrible choice of giving back the prescription that they needed, because they couldn't afford to take it."

Brian Westrate, Wisconsin Republican Party Treasurer, says "The problem is drug companies would have the choice of either accepting the pricing ... or they can choose to not sell them in the United States anymore. Invariably, what would happen, is there certain significant drugs that are necessary to many Americans that the drug companies are going. 'Well, alright. If we can't sell it at a profit, we won't sell it in the United States.' and now, all of a sudden, we wouldn't have these drugs available."

The measure now goes to the U.S. Senate, where lawmakers are considering their own bipartisan bill to rein in the high cost of prescription drugs, a bill which has white house support.

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