(photo) Sen. Hwang Applauds New Law to Lower CT Healthcare Costs & Curb Rising Cost of Rx Drugs

June 27, 2023

For Immediate Release

Sen. Hwang Applauds Signing of Bill to Lower CT Healthcare Costs
and Curb Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs

Sen. Tony Hwang, the Ranking Senator on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee and the former Co-Ranking Leader of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, today applauded the June 27 signing of HB 6669 LCO 9990, legislation he co-introduced in the Senate, which aims to bring down health care costs and curb the rising cost of prescription drugs.

“The cost of health care is unaffordable in Connecticut,” said Sen. Hwang. “Our healthcare system is overly complicated, segmented and siloed. Family budgets are breaking, and people are living paycheck to paycheck as they have difficulty making hard choices on paying for healthcare instead of rent, mortgage and groceries. That’s why we must constantly be meeting with stakeholders to discuss short-term and long-term solutions to reduce costs and improve competition.  This new law aims to eliminate administrative barriers that drive up healthcare costs. It works to address escalating prescription drug costs. It seeks to improve community health and health access equity.  It moves us forward as a state, and I wholeheartedly support it.”

The legislation will:

  • Create a Drug Discount Card Program to allow the Comptroller to establish a discount card and incorporate regional consortium to pool prescription drug purchasing power.
  •  Increase Transparency for High-Cost Drug Increases. The Office of Health Strategy’s (OHS) annual drug reporting requirement thresholds will be updated to ensure enhanced scrutiny of costs. The law restructures the department’s current mandate to report the top 10 outpatient prescription drugs that are provided at substantial costs to the state by lowering the cost threshold of reporting and adding a public comment process before a final list is published. Manufacturers of identified drugs are required by current law to do certain reporting to OHS regarding drivers of the cost increases.
  • PBM Study: The law calls for a study of pharmacy benefits managers’ practices of prescription drug distribution practices including spread pricing arrangements, manufacturing rebates and transparency, fees charged, financial incentives for adding drugs to health plan formularies, and an evaluation of prescription drug distribution practices.
  • Study of Medicaid: The law requires the Department of Social Services, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, to conduct an assessment and recommend strategies to address barriers and influences that impact health and health care outcomes for HUSKY Health members.
  • Study of Medicare Advantage: The law requires the Connecticut Insurance Department in consult with the Office of Health Strategy report to legislature on matters relating to insurance regarding an analysis of utilization management and provider payment practices of Medicare Advantage programs.
  • Facility Fees: The law attempts to lower the cost of medical procedures by reducing “facility fees” that hospitals often charge
  • The law also bans certain restrictive terms in contracts between health care providers and insurers deemed “anti-competitive”

“We must keep pressing and innovating – as Republicans and Democrats – to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for everyone,” Sen. Hwang said. “Significant annual savings for working class and middle class families is achievable. Providing healthcare relief for struggling small businesses and their employees in Connecticut –  a truly transformational benefit – is achievable.  We can achieve these goals through transparency, through competition, and by enabling the marketplace to work better for the consumer.  This plan will start Connecticut on that more affordable path. It represents thoughtful and impactful solutions to provide relief.  Fighting to create a more affordable Connecticut is a vision we can achieve together. It’s the better way.”

*Sen. Tony Hwang represents the 28th Senate District. He serves as the Ranking Senator on the Connecticut General Assembly’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee. He is the former Co-Ranking Leader of the legislature’s Public Health Committee.

Attached photo: Sen. Tony Hwang, at podium, speaks at a June 27 press conference to announce the signing of a new law which aims to lower Connecticut health care costs and curb the rising cost of prescription drugs.