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Bill to lower prescription drug costs and reform pharmacy benefit managers receives hearing

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MADISON (WKOW) --- Health care advocates continue to push for lower prescription costs in a bill making its way through the State Capitol.

The measure would reform the “middle man” who calculates how much you pay for medication which is called a pharmacy benefit manager, or PBM. 

A PBM's job is to negotiate drug prices with insurers and employers. However, the price information they receive, pharmacists say, is oftentimes hidden from you. During a hearing in a Senate committee Wednesday, supporters of the bill argued it's unfair for patients.

"The cash price can sometimes be cheaper for the patient. We see that many times each week," said Appleton Hometown Pharmacy owner Tyler Wallenfang. "The issue is we're not allowed to speak to our patients about that because of gag clauses in our contracts."

Under the proposal, PBMs would be allowed to establish price requirements with their patients and allow consumers to get their prescriptions where they choose. 

It also removes a PBM’s ability to charge patients a higher co-pay than the price of their medication.

A similar bill was introduced in 2017 but never made it out of committee.

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