June 21, 2018
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Panel backs prescription drug bill

By Jackie Farwell, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that would limit how much consumers pay for prescription drugs won legislative approval Wednesday.

The bill places restrictions on fees, known as co-insurance, that some health insurers charge policyholders for certain prescription drugs on top of flat co-payments. As amended from a previous version, the bill requires private health plans to include co-insurance charges for prescription drugs when calculating the plan’s overall limit on out-of-pocket expenses.

The bill, LD 1691, came in response to a national trend among some employers and insurers to set varying costs for different types of prescription drugs. Some consumers have seen their out-of-pocket costs for specialty medications, for conditions including arthritis and cancer, reach into the thousands of dollars.

The Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee passed the measure by a vote of 9-4, with several of the Republican members opposing the bill.

If passed by the full Legislature, the bill would take effect on Jan. 1, 2013. It would apply only to new or renewed policies offered by private insurers.

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