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Townhall meetings have been taking place across Illinois on the subject of prescription drug legislation, which lawmakers could take up this year.
House Bill 1745 would limit a patient’s monthly out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions. The legislation won’t save anyone money, but will make expenses more predictable. The legislation would also limit a beneficiary’s monthly or annual out-of-pocket financial responsibility for prescription drugs to a specified dollar amount.
Shana Crews, the government relations director with the American Cancer Society, said the meetings have allowed cancer survivors to tell their stories.
“We have patients in every corner of the state that have really lived the reality of being shocked at the pharmacy counter and seeing that sticker price that it really is unaffordable,” Crews said.
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In 2021 alone, the American Cancer Society predicts nearly 75,000 Illinoisans will be diagnosed with cancer. Crews said every Illinoisan with cancer, even those with good insurance plans, will face high out-of-pocket costs that make it harder for patients to afford their prescribed medication.
“No plan on the state-regulated market offers any copay options for specialty medicines, and we know in particular for oncology products and chronic conditions, many of these medicines are specialties,” said Crews.
Prescription drug prices in the United States are significantly higher than in other nations, with prices in the U.S. averaging 2.5 times those seen in 32 other nations, according to a RAND Corporation report.
The gap between prices in the U.S. and other countries is even bigger for brand-name drugs, with U.S. prices averaging 3.44 times those in comparison nations.
“Soaring out-of-pocket costs make prescription drugs unaffordable for far too many Illinoisans,” House Majority Leader Greg Harris said. “Passing House Bill 1745 will limit costs and give Illinois patients better access to their medications.”