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Reps. West and Manchester's bipartisan patient protection legislation unanimously passes out of House Health Committee

March 16, 2021
Thomas West News

COLUMBUS – State Reps. Thomas E. West (D-Canton) and Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) today announced that the House Health Committee unanimously passed House Bill (HB) 135, their bill to cut out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for patients. The legislation is supported by a large coalition of patient advocate and healthcare provider organizations.

Some patients with chronic, complex conditions such as multiple sclerosis and hemophilia rely on copay assistance programs offered through drug manufacturers, charities, and other third-party organizations to help cover the costs of their prescription drugs. Health insurance providers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have increased their use of discriminatory policies that disallow payments made through copay assistance programs to count toward a patient’s deductible.

These discriminatory practices are referred to as copay accumulator adjustment policies. Patients impacted by these copay accumulator policies are often unaware they exist and are blindsided once they learn these payments did not apply to their deductible. With accumulators, health plans double their take by pocketing the assistance payment and never allowing it to contribute to the deductible, and then still requiring the full deductible payment to be made by the patient. 

“Insurers and PBMs continue their false narratives about patient assistance programs. In the midst of a pandemic, this continued attack on our patients must stop,” said West. “Similar legislation has passed in five states and Puerto Rico and could be introduced in more than 20 states this year. It’s time to protect Ohio patients so that they have the opportunity to thrive, not just survive.” 

HB 135 directs health insurers and PBMs to apply all payments made by either the patient or on the patient’s behalf through an assistance program to count toward a patient’s deductible.

“Copay accumulator policies discriminate against patients with chronic conditions, as well as those who need innovative prescription drugs for which no generics typically exist,” said Manchester. “House Bill 135 fights to cut out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for our families.”

HB 135 would not interfere with health insurance plans’ or PBMs’ policies to save money by requiring the use of generic medications.

The legislation will also help Ohioans who are reeling from the pandemic and will have a lasting effect on patients with rare diseases, saving them thousands of dollars on prescription costs. 

Following the committee vote, HB 135 awaits a vote on the House floor.