ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Matthew Magner, director of State Government Affairs at the National Community Pharmacists Association, testified on the need for pharmacy benefit manager reform on Tuesday during an interim study virtual meeting held before the Oklahoma House Insurance
Committee. The committee is studying issues related to SB 821, a bill that would have addressed PBM abuses, including patient steering, which was passed by the legislature earlier this year but later vetoed by Gov. Kevin Stitt (R). Magner provided information related to patient steering nationwide, including data from states finding that PBMs steer patients to their own pharmacies and reimburse those pharmacies at higher rates than independent pharmacies.
In related written comments, Magner referenced a 2020 NCPA survey of independent pharmacists in which 79 percent said their patients’ prescriptions were transferred to another pharmacy in the previous six months without the patients’ knowledge or consent. Community pharmacies lost a median of 12 patients during that time period. Not only is patient steering anticompetitive, Magner wrote, but it also allows insurer and PBM conflicts of interest to usurp a patient’s authority to make their own health care decisions and forces patients to make choices based on the insurer’s or PBM’s bottom line, instead of the patient’s own best interests.
“It is important that the Oklahoma State Legislature enact legislation that addresses the harms caused by this practice,” Magner says. “By doing so, Oklahoma would join Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and others, all of which have protected patient choice by enacting pro-patient choice legislation.”