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S.49

Introduced by   Committee on Finance

Date:

Subject:  Health; prescription drugs; reimportation; I‑SaveRx

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require the secretary of administration to join the I‑SaveRx prescription drug program launched in Illinois so that all Vermont residents can purchase lower cost prescription drugs from Europe and Canada.

AN ACT RELATING TO THE I-SaveRx PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM

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

Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS

The general assembly makes the following findings of fact:

(1)  I‑SaveRx is a prescription drug program implemented by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in October 2004.

(2)  I‑SaveRx allows all Illinois residents to refill prescriptions for 150 of the most common brand‑name prescription drugs used to treat chronic illnesses from a network of inspected and approved pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.  The program is accessible through a website and a 24-hour toll-free telephone number.     

(3)  Participants in I-SaveRx are expected to save an average of 25 to 50 percent on the cost of medications.  The program includes provisions to ensure the safety and quality of the prescriptions by requiring the inspection and approval of the pharmacies or wholesalers who participate.

(4)  Since implementation of I‑SaveRx, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kansas have joined the program.

(5)  Because Vermont residents also require alternate timely access to safe, high quality, and efficacious prescription drugs that are not available in the United States at affordable prices, Vermont should join and work with Illinois to provide Vermonters with an alternate program to secure safe and affordable prescription drugs.

(6)  Reimportation is not a comprehensive, long-term solution to the problem of drug affordability; however, I-SaveRx will provide Vermonters with an interim option for obtaining safe and affordable prescription drugs.

Sec. 2.  PRESCRIPTION DRUG REIMPORTATION PROGRAM

(a)  The governor shall enter into discussions with the member states of I‑SaveRx, the prescription drug program implemented in Illinois in October 2004.  The goal of the discussions shall be to establish on or before July 15, 2005 a memorandum of understanding allowing all Vermont residents to purchase prescription drugs through the I‑SaveRx program.

(b)  The governor, in consultation with the commissioner of health, shall engage in an evaluation of I‑SaveRx for the purpose of assessing whether the proposed terms of the memorandum of understanding with Illinois would maintain the level of health and safety currently afforded Vermonters.

(c)  The governor, in consultation with the commissioner of health, shall file monthly written reports to the joint fiscal committee beginning one month after passage of this act, detailing the status of negotiations with the state of Illinois and, upon implementation of I-SaveRx, an analysis of participation in the program by Vermonters.

(d)  I‑SaveRx shall be implemented in Vermont on or before July 15, 2005, unless the governor in a written report to the joint fiscal committee cites specific, verifiable reasons indicating that purchasing drugs through I‑SaveRx  would reduce the level of health and safety currently afforded Vermonters, and those reasons are affirmed by a majority vote of the members of the joint fiscal committee.

(e)  Upon implementation of I-SaveRx, the secretary of human services shall convene a working group to develop outreach and promotion tools related to the I-SaveRx program. 

(f)  Members of the working group shall include the commissioner of health; the director of the office of Vermont health access; the commissioner of the department for children and family services; the commissioner of aging and independent living; the commissioner of human resources; the health care ombudsman; the long‑term care ombudsman; at least one representative from each of the following organizations:  the area agencies on aging, the community action agencies, the Vermont coalition for disability rights, the Vermont medical society, and the American Association of Retired People; as well as any other interested consumers, advocates, and providers appointed by the secretary of human services.

(g)  Activities of the working group shall include developing communication tools such as enrollment forms, explanatory brochures, a website, and promotional magnets and posters; directing outreach and material distribution to all health care providers and relevant health care associations; and mailing I-SaveRx information directly to all Vermont residents.

Sec. 3.  8 V.S.A. § 4089i is amended to read:

§ 4089i.  PRESCRIPTION DRUG COVERAGE

A health insurance or other health benefit plan offered by a health insurer shall provide coverage for prescription drugs purchased in Canada, and used in Canada or reimported legally, or purchased through the I‑SaveRx program, on the same benefit terms and conditions as prescription drugs purchased in this country.  For drugs purchased by mail or through the internet, the plan may require accreditation by the Internet and Mailorder Pharmacy Accreditation Commission (IMPAC/tm) or similar organization.

Sec. 4.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us