Healthcare Cabinet finalizes recommendations to control drug costs

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At yesterday’s meeting, the state Healthcare Cabinet tweaked and finalized eight policy recommendations to lower prescription drug costs in Connecticut. Drugs are the largest driver of skyrocketing health costs. However, the Council acknowledged that, even if these recommendations are all adopted and implemented, a lot of work remains. The recommendations came from months of research and deliberation by four workgroups and the full Cabinet. Legislative recommendations include creating a Drug Review Board, with strong conflict of interest standards for membership, to investigate drug pricing and refer potentially unjustified cases to the Attorney General’s Office for action. Responding to reports of potential conflicts of interest in widespread industry backing of patient advocacy groups, the Cabinet is also recommending that drug companies, pharmacy benefits management companies (PBMs), and insurers publicly disclose funding to nonprofit advocacy groups. The Cabinet also recommends that PBMs cooperate with audits, and require that rebates and other reductions in drug prices be shared with consumers. Administrative recommendations include supporting meaningful discussions between consumers and providers about drug costs, priority setting, and adherence, including adding questions to consumer surveys and linking performance on those measures to funding. Other administrative recommendations include soliciting more information from insurers on the contribution of drug costs to premiums, and using comparative effectiveness research and value assessments to inform providers’ prescribing decisions.  Recommendations that aren’t ready for endorsement yet include public posting of provider compensation by drug companies, limiting coupons that may reduce costs for some consumers but raise them for the overall system, expanding access to the state employee pharmacy system to other payers, monitoring consumer and provider education efforts to ensure quality and balance with non-medication options, reimportation of drugs from Canada, and creating a public utility model for drug price oversight.