Mary­land is mov­ing to­ward cheaper drugs

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

An op-ed by Brian D. Pien­inck, pres­i­dent and CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, high­lighted two se­ri­ous and in­ter­re­lated is­sues: the soar­ing cost of pre­scrip­tion drugs and the need to make health in­sur­ance as af­ford­able as pos­si­ble in Mary­land (“BlueCrossBlueShield CEO: Md. should con­sider in­sur­ance man­date,” Nov. 29). I ap­plaud him for his will­ing­ness to find long-term, in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions that will pro­tect con­sumers across the state and build on the short-term but very sig­nif­i­cant rein­sur­ance pro­gram which CareFirst helped to get en­acted dur­ing the 2018 Gen­eral As­sem­bly ses­sion.

Mary­land should take two key steps in re­sponse. First, we must sta­bi­lize drug costs so no Mary­lan­der ever has to de­cide be­tween pay­ing the rent and buy­ing their pre­scrip­tions. Drugs don’t work if peo­ple can’t af­ford them. We are work­ing to cre­ate a Pre­scrip­tion Drug Af­ford­abil­ity Board that would en­sure that peo­ple in Mary­land are charged fair and af­ford­able costs for their medicines. We have broad sup­port for this im­por­tant leg­is­la­tion in the 2019 Gen­eral As­sem­bly ses­sion, with Sen. Kather­ine Klaus­meier (Bal­ti­more County) and Del. Jose­line PeñaMel­nyk (Prince Ge­orge’s) serv­ing as lead spon­sors. Su­per ma­jori­ties in both houses have al­ready ex­pressed sup­port for the mea­sure.

Sec­ond, we echo Mr. Pien­inck’s call for restor­ing an in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance man­date in the state. We be­lieve the best way to ac­com­plish this would be through our pro­posed “health in­sur­ance down pay­ment” plan which would re­quire Mary­lan­ders with­out health in­sur­ance to pay a state penalty that could serve as a “down pay­ment” for pur­chas­ing health in­sur­ance cov­er­age. This will lead to tens of thou­sands of peo­ple hav­ing in­sur­ance, which will bring down­premi­um­costs for every­one. Sen. Brian Feld­man (Mont­gomery) and Del. PeñaMel­nyk will be lead spon­sors of this leg­is­la­tion which also en­joys broad sup­port in the pub­lic and among leg­is­la­tors.

We look for­ward to work­ing with CareFirst on these pro­pos­als to help make health care more af­ford­able in Mary­land.

Vin­cent DeMarco, Bal­ti­more

The writer is pres­i­dent of the Mary­land Ci­ti­zens Health Ini­tia­tive.

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