House Health Committee unanimously approves Matzie bill to address predatory practices by pharmacy benefit managers

HARRISBURG, June 11 – The House Health Committee today unanimously approved a bill that would bring much-needed transparency to the practices of middlemen companies hired to manage prescription drug benefit plans, according to the bill’s prime cosponsor, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny.

Matzie said he introduced H.B. 941 with co-prime sponsor, state Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-Carbon, to address mercenary practices by pharmacy benefit managers that threaten to destroy local pharmacies and injure consumers – particularly those in the state’s Medicaid program, where 90 percent of patients are served by managed care companies that contract with PBMs.

“Pharmacy benefit managers are supposed to be working on behalf of consumers to lower drug costs,” said Matzie, who is co-chair of the state Community Pharmacy Caucus. “Instead, we’re finding that they’re overcharging patients and taxpayers millions and engaging in predatory pricing practices.

“We’ve invested these middlemen companies with tremendous power. As rate-setters, they determine what drugs will be covered and how much pharmacies will be reimbursed. At the same time, we haven’t imposed much-needed oversight to ensure that they don’t abuse this power. The state’s consumers and small businesses are now paying the price.

“For two years, I’ve been hearing from local pharmacies about how PBMs are slashing drug reimbursement rates well below the costs paid by pharmacies. They’re unable to compete and are being forced to shut their doors. At the same time, some of our most vulnerable citizens are losing access to the trusted local pharmacies on which they rely.

“We’re not prepared to stand by and allow the unchecked practices of a largely unregulated middlemen damage our local economy and injure consumers. The committee’s move today is a great first step toward addressing this problem now, before more small pharmacies are forced to shut their doors."

The bill now heads to the House chamber for consideration and a vote.