Skip to main content

Letter: Prescriptions cost a lot; new legislation could make it worse


As a Detroit News column touched on last month, every Michigan resident deserves high quality, affordable health care ("Middlemen scheme keeps affordable insulin out of reach," Aug. 23).

At the Economic Alliance for Michigan, we are committed to advocating on behalf of the more than 900,000 Michigan residents we represent. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that quality, affordable health care is accessible to all is of paramount importance.

Right now the state legislature is considering HB 4348 — a bill that would regulate pharmacy benefit managers, but also increase the costs of prescription drugs for Michigan employers, workers and families. Medication is already a significant financial burden for many Michigan patients.

The average cost of prescription drugs rose by 60% between 2012 and 2017, while Michigan residents incomes increased only 11% during that time. Even more concerning, recent research also found that 32% of Michigan residents ages 19-64 had stopped taking their medication as prescribed due to cost in 2017.

Instead of taking steps to address this problem, HB 4348 could actually make it worse by adding an estimated $10.80 in additional pharmacy fees on the majority of prescriptions — fees that come directly out of Michigan families’ pockets. Overall, this bill is projected to drive up health care costs for Michigan residents by at least $535 million in the first year, and $6.6 billion over the next decade.

Also, HB 4348 restricts oversight of fraudulent and wasteful practices and removes patient safeguards, meaning the bill just makes it easier for bad actors to take advantage of good people.

There have been multiple instances of pharmacy fraud in Michigan, like the pharmacist who was caught in a $1.2 million conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, or the five pharmacists who participated in a $12 million health care fraud scheme.

So, who exactly would benefit from HB 4348? Everyone in the pharmacy supply chain. When prescription drugs cost more, they make more — adding to the billions of dollars they already rake in every year, while some Michigan families struggle to pay the bills.

The last thing Michigan needs is a bill that would continue the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. We encourage state lawmakers to work to find ways to decrease the cost of prescriptions and make health care more affordable.

Bret Jackson, president

Economic Alliance of Michigan