Senator Joey Hensley
Legislation to introduce certain reforms to the way pharmacy benefit managers work in Tennessee has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee. Senate Bill 1617 would help patients use the pharmacies they choose and trust, rather than being forced by their insurance companies to use specialty pharmacies, which often do not meet patient needs. This is especially important for patients with chronic, complex, or rare diseases.
PBMs are companies that manage prescription drugs on behalf of health insurers, Medicare Part D drug plans, large employers, and others. They belong to insurance companies and often also pharmacies. As a major industry in the United States, the three largest PBMs in America serve 230 million patients. SB 1617 would also ensure that price reductions negotiated by the PBMs pass the pharmacy on directly to the consumer and that pharmacies are not paid below their cost of purchase.
Additionally, the bill is designed to prevent PBMs from discriminating against 340B facilities, which are healthcare safety netting providers that serve the most vulnerable populations in the state. Currently, PBMs can amend a 340B company’s contract and reimburse at a lower rate than negotiated, essentially withholding money from facilities for needy care. This can be detrimental to these companies, who work hard to stay open and serve those who need it most.
Finally, the bill improves transparency for patients by stating that a PBM is responsible for reporting the percentage of entitlement benefits to both the plan and the insured person. It will also remove the opacity within the PBM system by releasing data to provide accurate information to patients at the point of care and allowing discussions and decisions about medications a patient can afford and what they will cost. The bill will now be forwarded to the Senate’s Finance, Ways and Means Committee for consideration.
Silver Alert Program to Improve Safe Recovery for Missing Seniors and Disabled Adults
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to create a statewide Silver Alert program to step up local efforts to ensure the safe recovery of seniors and vulnerable adults with disabilities who are missing in Tennessee. Senate Bill 102 assigns implementation and oversight of the program to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which has effectively overseen the state’s Amber Alert program to search for missing children. Currently, local law enforcement agencies are responsible for issuing a Care Alert.
This legislation aims to devote more resources to finding missing seniors and vulnerable adults, as we are doing with our Amber Alert Program for Missing Children. She is calling on local law enforcement agencies to alert the TBI of a missing vulnerable adult so they can work with the nationwide media and transportation officials to alert the public. “
Silver Alert legislation defines a missing person as someone aged 60 and over whose whereabouts are unknown and who are believed to be at risk due to age, health, mental illness, or physical disability.
The warning is issued when it is believed that the missing person will not be able to return to safety without assistance, and this can be in combination with certain weather or environmental conditions. In addition, the warning would apply to a person suffering from a documented case of dementia, mental, developmental, or physical disability. The Silver Alert program is designed to quickly disseminate descriptive information about the missing person so that citizens can look out for the person at risk and inform local law enforcement agencies of any relevant information. This legislation will ensure the best opportunity for the dissemination of this information so that we can get home missing vulnerable adults as soon as possible. The bill is now going to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee to review the bill’s tax implications.
The Senate votes on the governor’s emergency powers and legislative control
The 1603 Senate Bill was passed by the Senate Government’s Operations Committee and dealt with the governor’s emergency powers. The bill would provide for legislative scrutiny by requiring the Joint Judiciary and Government Evaluation Committee for Government Operations to review every unit of state government created by the governor’s emergency powers. The Committee is only expected to report to the General Assembly on whether to continue or discontinue the Company and its functions within five days of the Company’s review.
In addition, all public purchases, as well as contracts for goods and services entered into by an executive agency, will be subject to public purchase laws from July 1st. The bill will now be forwarded to the Senate Committee and the local committee with a positive recommendation.
Senator Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, will provide weekly updates on the legislation during the 112th General Assembly.
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