RICHMOND, Va. — A PhRMA-backed bill that would raise health care premiums drew opposition from a broad range of interest groups during a Jan. 31 meeting of the House Commerce and Energy Committee’s Subcommittee #2.
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the Virginia Association of Health Plans, Virginia AFL-CIO, and Sentara Healthcare all testified that they opposedDelegate Israel O’Quinn’s HB 1782. In contrast, PhRMA, the drug manufacturers association, stated they were in support of the bill, which mirrors bills they have supported in other states.
“Everyone from business to labor to health care is opposed to this bill, which would lower prescription costs for a narrow subset of people by raising insurance premiums across the board,” said Rhena Hicks, executive director of Freedom Virginia, a Virginians for Affordable Medicine coalition member. “Make no mistake: this is PhRMA-backed legislation that allows drug companies to keep prices high while pretending they’re doing something about their out-of-control price increases. It’s the Black Friday sales model when companies mark up the cost and then promote ‘savings’ to get back to the original profit margin.”
The bill failed to garner enough votes to report out of the subcomittee but could still be revived before crossover.
Those testifying against the legislation shared the following with subcommittee members:
Doug Gray, Virginia Association of Health Plans: “We’re obviously opposed to this legislation, because it’s going to require us to raise the premiums of people who are fully insured.”
Karin Addison, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association: “It will raise premiums, it creates a new mandate on employers, and it masks the fact that drug manufacturers alone set the drug prices.”
Lauren Rowley, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association: “Seven states have outright rejected it because of the impact of premiums; those states include California, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Washington … It’s a mandate that’s going to increase costs for insurance for most Virginians while creating no incentives for pharmaceutical manufacturers to lower the list price, so we oppose this bill.”
Doris Crouse-Mays, Virginia AFL-CIO: “Our health insurance, if you’re self-insured, would be a lot higher than it is right now.”
Jeremy Greenfield, Sentara Healthcare: “We also employ 30,000 people so we’re the second largest private employer in the Commonwealth. Our actuaries have looked at this and they estimate that it could increase our employee premiums, somewhere between nine and 12%.”