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House committee advances bills addressing prescription drugs

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- The House Prescription Drug Affordability and Accessibility Committee approved three bills Thursday afternoon.

Democrats want to create a flat co-pay for all prescription drugs in Illinois. House Bill 1745 would require insurance companies to offer health plan options for people who heavily rely on prescription drugs.

House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said the proposal would offer relief to residents who regularly pay high prices for medications. He also explained it could allow people to have predictability when it comes to out-of-pocket prescription drug expenses.

“When consumers go to do their shopping, they’ll clearly know that these are plans designed for people who have had problems with traditional out-of-pocket prescription expenses,” said Harris.

Harris explained the American Cancer Society and the Mental Health Association of America supported the measure along with many other large advocate groups.

Electronic prescriptions

Similarly, the committee also advanced House Bill 3596 that could require physicians to send prescriptions electronically to pharmacies. This rule would specifically address opioid prescriptions.

Rep. Dagmara Avelar (D-Bolingbrook) said this is an important element to improving the quality of patient care.

“Currently, prescriptions for these type of substances are not allowed to be sent electronically to the dispenser,” said Avelar. “Therefore, the patient has to take the paper prescription to their dispenser for processing.”

Avelar explained this was her first bill with the committee. She was happy to see it pass with bipartisan support. An official from Brady and Peck Government Consulting also found the bill good for all patients.

Animal prescriptions

Another bill lawmakers advanced could require veterinarians to provide all critical information on prescription drugs to pet owners.

Rep. Terra Costa Howard (D-Lombard) stressed often times pet owners aren’t aware of long-term side effects prescription drugs have on animals. In fact, she emphasized this could help save animals who unknowingly suffer.

“When we started to do the research on it, we were surprised that prescription consultations or any information sheets were not really the norm with vets,” said Costa Howard. “It really depended on the practice and so we believe that this is something that’s important for us to keep our animals safe.”

Howard said she plans to add an amendment to House Bill 3283 clarifying the language at a later date.

At this time, all three bills advanced out of the Prescription Drug Affordability and Accessibility Committee on a bipartisan vote. They will now move to the House floor for second reading.

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Ali Rasper

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