RICHMOND, Va. – Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) and Del. Karrie Delaney (D-Chantilly) today announced Senate and House legislation to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) with the power to set limits on what consumers can pay for specific drugs. This legislation will boost financial freedom and make healthcare more affordable for hardworking Virginians.
The Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation would create a small, independent group of health care experts to analyze the affordability of high-priced prescription drugs and institute reasonable limits to protect consumers from harmful price-gouging. The proposal builds off of Virginia legislation passed in 2021 to create transparency in prescription drug prices.
In 2022, pharmaceutical companies raised the prices of more than 1,200 drugs at an average rate of 31.6% – about four times the rate of inflation. In 2020, Virginians spent 36% more per person on prescription drugs than the national average. As a result of high prices, one out of every four Virginians who depend on prescription medicines opted not to take them due to cost.
“This bill is essential for Virginians,” said Sen. Petersen. “Not only would a Prescription Drug Affordability Board lower costs for hardworking families, but taxpayers across Virginia would also benefit since the Commonwealth spends more than $2.4 billion a year on prescription drugs between Medicaid and state employees’ insurance. This bill will help Virginians get the life-saving medicine they need and provide economic relief.”
If the bill were to become law, Virginia would join seven other states with Republican and Democratic governors that have passed similar legislation, including neighboring Maryland.
A 2022 Mason-Dixon poll shows that 82 percent of Virginia voters – including wide majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents – support the creation of a PDAB. Virginia’s Commonwealth Council on Aging has recommended the establishment of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board for the 2023 legislative session.
“This bill would save hardworking Virginians millions of dollars when trying to get the life-saving medicines they need,” said Del. Delaney. “People should not have to choose between buying their prescriptions and putting food on the table. The Inflation Reduction Act will help control costs for people on Medicare, and our bill will build on this progress to lower prices for 7 million more Virginians.”
The bill has earned the support of a broad coalition of organizations, including AARP Virginia, Virginia Association of Counties, Virginia Organizing, NAACP Virginia Chapter, MS Society Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living, Baptist Ministers Conference of Northern Virginia, AFSCME Council 20, Small Business Majority, Freedom Virginia, Doctors for America, and the National Association of Social Workers – Virginia Chapter.
“The rising cost of prescription drugs means older Virginians are increasingly facing difficult choices about whether or not to continue taking their medications,” said Jared Calfee, Associate State Director for AARP Virginia. “A prescription drug affordability board would go a long way in helping to rein in those costs. Medicine only works if you can afford it.”
“Prescription drug costs are a challenge for county budgets as well as for individuals and families,” said Dean Lynch, Executive Director, Virginia Association of Counties. “We appreciate the work of Senator Petersen and Delegate Delaney on this issue and look forward to supporting this important legislation during the 2023 General Assembly session.”
“Virginians are demanding relief from the ballooning cost of prescription medicines,” said Rhena Hicks, executive director of Freedom Virginia. “A prescription drug affordability board is critical to reducing costs and boosting financial freedom for hardworking Virginians and their families.”
“A 30-day supply of my medication that used to cost me anywhere between $60-$100 quickly went up to $300-$350 even with my private employer insurance,” said Jenaya Moore, an impacted Virginian with chronic Asthma. “As a graduate student struggling to make ends meet while affording my education, these costs are unsustainable.”
While the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act caps insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries and empowers Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the more than 1 million Virginians enrolled in the program, a Virginia PDAB would also help the more than 7 million Virginians who are not enrolled in Medicare.