Bills would lower drug prices, expand contraceptive coverage

February 14, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A pair of bills in the Maine Legislature would require state-regulated health care plans to cover all prescription contraceptives while linking prescription drugs rates to lower costs paid in Canada.

Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Sen. Ned Claxton, D-Auburn, discussed the bills on Monday, a day before the proposals were to be considered by the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee.

The bill to lower prescription drug prices would link rates for some health plans to international reference rates set by the insurance superintendent for the 250 most costly drugs.

“There is no good reason that Americans pay more for prescription medication than our Canadian neighbors,” said Claxton, a family physician.

The other proposal expands on provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to cover at least one contraceptive product in each category of contraception at no out-of-pocket expense.

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The bill would require coverage of all prescription contraceptive medications approved by the FDA at no out-of-pocket cost to patients.

Nicole Clegg from Planned Parenthood New England said there are meaningful differences between some contraceptives within the same category — and that patients and their physicians, not insurers, should be allowed to choose what’s best.

Jackson said the proposals aim to put patients first and to stop pharmaceutical companies from profiting off of Mainers.

Mainers “shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the medication or products that best meet their health needs, and insurance companies shouldn’t get to dictate the medication or medical products that Maine patients can access, especially for something as simple and as important as prescription birth control,” he said.