A bipartisan plan Rep. Mary Whiteford helped introduce to reduce the cost of health care in Michigan while making it more accessible was approved today by the Michigan House.
Whiteford, who chairs the House Health and Human Services budget subcommittee, said the plan focuses on three main goals: Lowering the cost of prescription medicine, increasing access to care and providing a higher standard of care.
“Far too many people in Michigan are being forced to choose between putting food on the table or purchasing the medications they need,” said Whiteford, a registered nurse. “The answer is to look at the source and figure out why these medications and treatments are so expensive and see what we can do to reform state law to make them more accessible and affordable.”
Whiteford’s bill in the package, House Bill 4359, expands the scope of practice for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to improve patient access to safe anesthesia services.
Among the many other proposed solutions are reforms to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin, put a check on unregulated prescription middlemen who manipulate drug prices and pad their pockets with money instead of passing along savings to consumers, and hold drug companies accountable to the patients who are driving their record profits by requiring manufacturers to submit details on how their drugs are priced.
“The issue is especially prevalent for diabetics due to the high price of insulin in Michigan,” Whiteford said. “It’s ridiculous that people are forced to take extreme measures like rationing their insulin or driving to Canada to get the life-saving drugs they need at a more affordable price.”
Another piece of the plan ensures access to life-saving treatments like oral chemotherapy. Intravenous chemotherapy drugs are typically covered under a health plan’s medical benefit, but oral drugs are usually covered under a health plan’s pharmacy benefit, resulting in higher upfront costs for patients at the counter.
Whiteford said the plan ensures Michigan patients aren’t forced to pay a higher co-pay, deductible or co-insurance to access oral chemo, which is a less invasive therapy they can use in the comfort of their own homes.
A full list of the reforms included in the plan is available here.
Rep. Whiteford talks about the accelerated rollout of the Michigan Crisis and Action Line, a 24-hour phone, text and chat line for people in distress currently serving Oakland County and the Upper Peninsula. Rep. Whiteford authored the legislation creating the line, and says statewide implementation will be moved up about a year to 2022.
Rep. Whiteford, the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, talks about the $28 billion 2022 Fiscal Year budget that went to the full House Appropriations Committee this week. Rep. Whiteford says the spending plan focuses on kids and seniors.