Congressman Greg Walden has supported and helped lead to the passage of two bills through the House and the Senate and are now awaiting approval by President Trump to be signed into law. The bills, Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and the Know the Lowest Price Act, are addressing an issue that was revealed to the congressman by a pharmacist from Grants Pass Pharmacy.
Michele Belcher, owner and pharmacist, of the pharmacy located in the heart of downtown Grants Pass says she was concerned by problems many of her patients were facing with not being able to afford medications vital to them.
It was because of a so-called “gag clause” that restricted her ability to inform patients that it would be cheaper to pay out of pocket for a different type of medication rather than the one through their insurance.
“Instances where a patient would have to choose to not take their medication because they couldn’t afford it,” she said. “When I might be able to tell them they could pay cash for another alternative.”
Belcher also said that one time she tried to help a terminally ill child access his medication. She reached out to the insurance companies in an attempt to help the boy but ended up receiving a cease and desist letter instead.
Now, if the bills are signed by the president, Walden says they will end the practice across Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans, Medicare Part D, and group and individual health insurance. Medicare Part D already has regulations against this type of issue.
“So that means where ever you have your health insurance, no longer can those insurers prevent your pharmacist from telling you how you can save money on your drugs,” he said.
No word if or when the president may sign the bills into law.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.