A cap on insulin costs, new measures to prevent price gouging of prescription drugs and notifying patients of when prices for drugs change was part of a health care affordability package approved Tuesday by the Democratic-led state Senate.
The measures are part of a broader effort by lawmakers to demonstrate how they are addressing rising inflation that has hurt New Yorkers' pocketbooks in the last several years.
“The average cost of living for New York families continues to bind households, where hard choices between paying the utility bill or covering the cost of insulin are made every day," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "These packages of legislation will help ease these burdens by lowering the cost of various prescription drugs, optimizing market prices, cutting away unnecessary red tape, and streamlining services for the middle and working class."
The bills approved Tuesday include a cap on insulin from $100 per prescription per month to $30 per month. Another measure would require prescription drug makers to provide a minimum notice of two months of their plans to raise wholesale prescription drug costs.
Lawmakers in the state Senate also want to allow people who have comparable coverage to a Medicare Part D to also be eligible for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage plan.
And a bill approved Tuesday would create a wholesale prescription drug importation plan that would be meant to lower the cost of drugs and be in accordance with federal safety standards. The intent of the measure is to lower drug costs overall through the importation program.
And lawmakers approved measures to tighten rules and penalties for price gouging in prescription drug costs as well as make it easier to obtain mail-order prescription drugs.
The state Senate later on Wednesday is expected to take up additional bills meant to address predatory lending and consumer protections in banking.
The measures won the backing of consumer organizations that have lobbied for lower prescription drug costs.
“Importing safe prescription drugs from Canada at much lower prices, requiring big drug makers to publicly disclose proposed price hikes ahead of time, capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $30 a month for New Yorkers, and allowing more seniors to benefit from the EPIC program are all common-sense, pro-consumer proposals, and AARP New York wholeheartedly supports them," said Beth Finkel, the state director of AARP New York.