AARP Montana Calls on Congress

By 
Stacia Dahl
AARP Montana Director of Communications
Thursday, September 26, 2019

Guest Commentary

Yesterday AARP Montana joined dozens of AARP state directors and volunteers from across the country in Washington, D.C., to urge federal lawmakers to pass legislation to lower prescription drug prices.

“The average annual cost of prescription drug treatment increased 57.8% between 2012 and 2017, while the annual income for a Montanan only increased 9.8%,” said AARP Montana Director of Government Affairs, Mike Batista. “Today, we called on Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines as well as Representative Gianforte to enact popular, bipartisan, commonsense solutions that will provide long overdue relief not just for older adults, but all Americans. It’s time to address the root cause of the problem: the outrageously high list prices set by drug manufacturers.”

Leaders from 33 AARP state offices met with lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate urging their vote for federal legislation to lower drug prices. AARP has said four principles need to be included in any bill: a cap on out-of-pocket costs for seniors, a crackdown on drug prices and price increases, an increase in competition, and greater transparency.

This Capitol Hill visit comes on the heels of the delivery of more than 5,000 petitions to each Montana member of Congress. AARP Montana staff and volunteers delivered the signed petitions on behalf of Montanans who are deeply concerned about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs. The petitions urge lawmakers to take on the pharmaceutical industry and make prescription drugs more affordable.

In addition, AARP Montana is pursuing a range of state legislative and policy reforms to address the high price of prescription drugs.

During the 2019 Montana Legislative Session, Montana legislators passed Senate Bill 270, which prohibits “gag clauses” in contracts between pharmacists and Pharmacy Benefit Managers.  These gag clauses forbade local pharmacists from informing consumers that the drug they wanted to buy had a less-expensive generic alternative.  

Additionally, the Montana House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 710, which sought to add more transparency to murky prescription drug pricing practices by requiring prescription drug manufactures and insurers to disclose pricing information on specific highlyexpensive drugs.  Unfortunately, Big PhRMA was able to kill that bill in the Montana Senate on a 25-25 tie vote.

AARP will continue to fight at the Montana State Legislature and at the federal level to lower the high cost of prescription drugs.  

To view two Montana infographics, visit www.aarp.org/rxstates.To learn more about AARP’s Stop Rx Greed campaign and view the national infographic, visit www.aarp.org/rx.

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