Senate panel to consider ban on prescription drug 'gag clauses'

Senate panel to consider ban on prescription drug 'gag clauses'
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The Senate health committee plans to vote on a bill next month banning "gag clauses" that can hide potential savings on prescriptions from consumers at the pharmacy counter. 

Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMcConnell blocks House bill to reopen government for second time Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks GOP senators propose bill to pay 'excepted' workers during shutdown MORE (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday he hopes the panel will vote on the bill, authored by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback The Memo: Concern over shutdown grows in Trump World Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal MORE (R-Maine), June 20. 

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Specifically, Collins's bill would ban clauses in contracts between pharmacies, insurers and middle men that keep pharmacies from proactively telling customers they could save money on a prescription if they paid out of pocket instead of through insurance. 

It would apply to plans offered through the individual market and by private employers. 

recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that reviewed 9.5 million insurance claims found that 23 percent of prescriptions filled through insurance ended up costing more for customers than if they would have paid out of pocket.

The study noted that some pharmacists are contractually prevented from alerting patients when their copay exceeds the drug's out-of-pocket price.

Alexander said the committee also hopes to vote on a bill addressing rising maternal mortality deaths in the U.S., and other health related bills next month, but noted compromise will be necessary. 

"These are important pieces of legislation, and again, we would hope to mark them up on the 20th, but it would take some cooperation and compromise between now and then to do it," Alexander said.