Wisconsin Assembly targets prescription drug prices, PBM bill heads to state Senate

MADISON, Wis. — A bipartisan measure designed to lower the cost of prescription drugs in Wisconsin has cleared the state Assembly.

The bill unanimously passed by the Assembly must also clear the Senate and be signed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers before becoming law.

Lawmakers said Tuesday they hope it’s just the beginning of efforts to address rising prices. The measure is part of a growing call nationwide to do something about rapidly increasing prescription drug prices.

“For many of us, before we really dove into this issue it was not something that any of us spent much time on,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester. “But we’ve heard personal stories, and the need for reform really is there.”

A lack of transparency has created a system in which drugmakers, middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers, also known as PBMs, and health care providers all benefit from increasing prices.

The bill aims to improve transparency by requiring PBMs to register with the state insurance commissioner, which will then regulate them. It also prohibits health insurance policies or plans from penalizing pharmacists who disclose drug prices or other options to their patients, requires pharmacies to post the prices for their 100 most prescribed drugs, and requires advanced notice if the pill you’re being prescribed will be switched out by the insurance for another, among other provisions.