AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – A failed Georgia bill would have forced the middleman, hired by insurance companies, to negotiate drug discounts and pass those savings to you.
Small businesses are worried they will not be able to provide insurance to their employees if premiums increase.
We spoke with Georgia State Representative Mark Newton about what happened and where we go from here.
Newton says from the start, it’s always been about transparency, and until this bill passes, the fight won’t stop.
No bill? For big insurance companies, it’s no problem.
“Pushback has always been from the insurers, especially the ones that are closely associated, even co-owned by a PBM,” he said.
A PBM is a pharmacy benefit manager. They act like a middleman, negotiating lower rates for prescriptions. But the problem is half of the savings they get to keep for themselves.
Companies like Cigna, United Healthcare, and Aetna are just a few big healthcare companies closely associated with pharmacy benefit managers. Those in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in opposition of the bill argue if prescription costs go down, premiums will go up — hurting small businesses trying to afford health care.
But Newton says premiums would only go up seventy-five cents a month, and the savings for voters would be huge.
“If I had been wiser, I would’ve had three quarters and just put ‘em on the podium with me. I would’ve told them, you’re gonna hear from others that premiums may increase. I want you to look at this same stack of three-quarters,” he said.
With overwhelming support in the House, how did it not pass out of a Senate committee?
State Senator Larry Walker, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Insurance, got the ball rolling.
“I’d like to make a motion to not pass it,” said Waker.
And what does Walker do for a living? He owns an insurance agency.
Newton said: “They have a strong interest in keeping this other division of their company profitable.”
Newton says it’s not just about the price of any prescription, but specifically, those name-brand prescriptions those with underlying conditions need to survive.
“Any of us could be in this situation next week, that our family member really needed a medication that is one of these higher prices but incredibly life-changing or lifesaving medications,” he said.
Newton says as they prepare to go to bat for this bill again during next year’s legislative session, there will be more focus on making sure those opposed to the bill, fully understand what the bill does and battling misinformation.
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Clinton Mora is a reporter for Trending Insurance News. He has previously worked for the Forbes. As a contributor to Trending Insurance News, Clinton covers emerging a wide range of property and casualty insurance related stories.