Chicago, IL. – Illinois consumers, businesses, cities and state taxpayers all could score a big win in the 2018 Illinois legislative session if state Senate leaders allow a vote on legislation to rein in unpredictable, skyrocketing prices in generic and off-patent medications, according to AARP Illinois and the former mayor of a northern Illinois city recently featured on “60 Minutes.”
Former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey joined AARP Illinois in calling on state Senate President John Cullerton to schedule an immediate up-or-down vote on the Senate floor on legislation, HB 4900, that would subject generic and off-patent drugs to longstanding state price-gouging laws.
AARP Illinois supports HB 4900, which passed the Illinois House in April on a bipartisan 65-38 vote. Cullerton has assigned the legislation to a Senate subcommittee that has not scheduled hearings on any legislation before the May 31 end of the legislative session.
While ordinary Illinois families are being hit hard by prescription-drug price gouging, businesses, state taxpayers and cities can be hurt as well.
“I have seen firsthand what the unpredictable price spikes in just one off-patent drug can do to a city’s budget,” Morrissey said. “It can be devastating.” In Rockford’s case, the cost of an anti-seizure medication for just two babies of employees covered under the city’s health-care coverage threatened the city’s budget, according to a CBS News “60 Minutes” story aired May 7th.
CBS reported on how the skyrocketing cost of one prescription drug for babies of city employees rose by 100,000 percent and threatened to wreck city finances. The city is currently suing over the cost increase.
While generic drug prices overall are moderating, Rockford, IL., is a textbook case of what happens when a drug manufacturer boosts the prices of an off-patent or generic medication by hundreds or even thousands of percent overnight.
Now time is running out for the Illinois Senate to act on HB 4900, said Ryan Gruenenfelder, AARP Illinois director of advocacy and outreach. “It’s within the power of Senate President Cullerton to schedule an immediate vote on this legislation,” said Gruenenfelder. “Older Illinois voters, state taxpayers and cities across the state deserve a chance to see if this proposal can help restrain unpredictable price spikes in generic drug prices.”
Under the legislation, state officials would monitor the cost of generic and off-patent medications purchased under the state’s Medicaid, state employee health insurance and other coverage plans.
If prices spiked by more than 30 percent in one year, 50 percent in two years or 75 percent in five years, state officials would report the price spikes to the Illinois Attorney General. Drug companies would then have 45 days to justify their price increases to the Attorney General.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
The post AARP, former Rockford Mayor: Time for IL Senate to Act to Restrain Drug Price-Gouging Outrage appeared first on AARP States.
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