New Life For Vetoed Prescription Drug Plan?

A proposal to lower prescription drug costs under Medicaid could get another chance this year – but possibly in a slightly different form. Bill Owens vetoed Senate Bill 1 last year (and two similar bills in 2005), which would have required Colorado to join a multi-state drug purchasing pool. Such an agreement would enable the state to bargain for lower prices on many prescription drugs. With a newly elected Democratic governor who’s said he would sign a similar bill, many expected that SB1 sponsors Sen. Bob Hagedorn and House Majority Leader Alice Madden would introduce one early in the new session. But, rumor has it that a legislative fight might be circumvented by Bill Ritter issuing an executive order.

Multi-state purchasing pools are popular across the country, but some detractors object to the preferred drug lists (PDL’s) they require. PDL’s dictate which drugs can be bought in bulk, and some patient-advocate groups worry that certain drugs won’t make the list. SB 1 gave the authority of drawing up the list to the governor and the Department of Health Care Financing. Last year it was estimated that SB 1 would have cost the state $70,000 in the first year but would have saved more than $1 million per year from then on.

Madden has said she hopes Ritter will issue the executive order for Colorado to join a purchasing pool. Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said in December that the governor-elect had not yet made a decision.