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NO. 51. AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING AND CONSUMER PROTECTION PROGRAM.

(H.365)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. PRESCRIPTION DRUG COST STUDY

(a) The legislative health access oversight committee shall report to the general assembly on or before January 1, 2000 with its analysis and recommendation for implementation of a program that would enable the citizens of Vermont to purchase necessary prescription drugs at the lowest possible price, to ensure access to such prescription drugs and to support Vermont pharmacies. Prices shall, to the greatest extent possible, be comparable to the manufacturer's "best prices" and price schedules agreed to with federal agencies and other nations.

(b) The report shall analyze the effectiveness of a range of options for achieving these goals, including:

(1) a regulatory structure to set maximum prices;

(2) a prescription drug purchasing pool to lower prices by increasing the negotiating power of Vermont consumers; and

(3) any other options for achieving the purposes of this act.

(c) The report may include draft legislation designed to implement the recommendations of the committee. It is the intention of the General Assembly that legislation acting upon the report of the committee be enacted during the year 2000 Session.

(d) The committee is authorized to contract for economic, legal and other expertise to assist the committee in its work under this section. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all or a portion of the monies appropriated to the committee pursuant to Sec. 105 of Act No. 1 of the 1999 General Assembly may be used to carry out the purposes of this act.

Sec. 2. 33 V.S.A. § 1996 is added to read:

§ 1996. VERMONT PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING AND

CONSUMER PROTECTION PROGRAM

On or before July 1, 2000 the commissioner of social welfare shall commence administration of a system designed to enable the citizens of Vermont to purchase necessary prescription drugs at the lowest possible price, to ensure access to such prescription drugs, and to support Vermont pharmacies, consistent with the time frames, standards and procedures established by the general assembly.

Approved: June 1, 1999