Scanlon Working Hard To Get Drug Pricing, Mental Health Parity Bills Over Finish Line

April 19, 2018

In separate press conferences today, Rep. Sean Scanlon, House chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, expressed hope that two bills he is championing will be passed and sent to the governor for making make drug prices more transparent and improving mental health parity in insurance coverage:

  • HB 5384: An Act Concerning Prescription Drug Costs, would require drug companies to justify any drug price increase above 25 percent. The company would be required to report their response to the Office of Health Strategy. The bill also requires any Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) to disclose the total amount of rebates received from manufacturers and how much of the rebate was retained. The third part of the bill would allow consumers to use a point-of-sale rebate at the pharmacy counter and see immediate relief.
  • SB 384: An Act Concerning Mental Health Parity, Data Reported By Managed Care Organizations and the All-Payer Claims Database, which that seeks to ultimately enlarge the networks of mental health providers that Connecticut insurance companies offer to their customers.“

This bill is a work in progress, but we feel like we’ve made a lot of progress,” Scanlon said, referring to HB 5384. “I think we’re getting close.” His committee approved it in an overwhelming bipartisan vote; it is on the House calendar and supported by the leadership of both parties. Scanlon introduced the bill with state Comptroller Kevin Lembo.

A poll of more than 900 Connecticut residents, sponsored by the Universal Healthcare Foundation of Connecticut, found that 88 percent of those who take their prescriptions regularly are worry they won’t be able to afford their medications. The poll also found 94 percent of respondents support authorizing the attorney general to take legal action to prevent price gouging and 93 percent support improving price transparency.

SB 384 passed the Insurance Committee on a unanimous and bipartisan 21-0 vote and now awaits action on the Senate calendar.

“It’s been 10 years since the passage of federal legislation mandating mental health parity in insurance coverage, yet even in in the middle of an opioid crisis, Connecticut patients still have trouble accessing mental health treatment. That needs to end, and Senate Bill 384 will help end that. We should pass this bill as soon as possible,” said Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. (D-Branford), a longtime mental health advocate and one of the many bipartisan co-sponsors of SB 384. “True mental health parity has remained elusive, in part because of the minuscule size of the mental health provider networks that so many insurance companies offer Connecticut customers. The plans don’t have enough providers to meet policyholder needs. The impact of that is enormously destructive, so this should be the year we implement real mental health parity in Connecticut.”

“Despite progress, it’s clear that a disparity between physical and behavioral health still exists in Connecticut, and that far too many people still cannot access even basic mental health treatment,” Scanlon said. “By passing Senate Bill 384 this year, we can get much closer to finally attaining mental health parity, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill passed and to ensure that everyone in Connecticut can get the help they deserve.”

For more, read this article.