Arkansas House & Senate approve pharmacy benefit manager regulation bills

HB 1010, a bill to license and regulate pharmacy benefit managers, passed out of the Arkansas House on Tuesday 92-2 with two voting present. (Photo: KATV)

In day two of the special session at the state Capitol, both the Arkansas House and Senate approved bills that would license and regulate pharmacy benefit managers, a measure prompted by complaints from pharmacists about dwindling prescription reimbursements they saw earlier this year.

The bill's house sponsor, State Representative Michelle Gray said HB1010 should finally require the companies that act as middlemen between pharmacies and insurance companies to show the data on lowered reimbursement rates that they've been reluctant to share.

"Once we see that data, I guarantee you we get that transparency we want - there's no reason our co-pays and our premiums should not go down," said Gray (R-Melbourne).

In a senate committee meeting, people representing the PBM and health insurance industries voiced concerns that they believe SB2 which mirrors HB1010 goes too far.

"This bill goes beyond fair and balanced regulation by interjecting the government into the business relationships between competent and private parties," said Derrick Smith, attorney for Mitchell Williams, but at the meeting representing AHIP or America's Health Insurance Plans.

The Senate Insurance & Commerce Committee chair State Senator Jason Rapert cut Smith off by questioning him, saying there isn't any regulation or oversight over PBMs in comparison to health insurance plans which are already regulated by the Arkansas Insurance Department. The bill was passed unanimously out of the senate committee.

The full senate passed the bill 30-2, with the full house passing a mirror bill 92-2 with 2 voting present. Although both bills are identical, the house measure will have to be approved by the senate and vice versa on Wednesday.

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