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Apr-05-2007 04:42printcomments

House Expands Access to State's Prescription Drug Pool

In 2006, voters approved Measure 44, opening up the program to uninsured Oregonians.

capitol photo
Photo: Tim King

(SALEM) - The Oregon House of Representatives on Tuesday, approved a measure that enables all Oregonians and Oregon businesses to benefit from the state’s bulk prescription drug purchasing power.

Under SB 362, Oregonians who have inadequate prescription drug coverage could join the Oregon Prescription Drug Program.

The bill also allows small businesses, labor organizations and other private entities to take advantage of the state’s prescription drug pool.

Those groups will be able to purchase prescription drugs for their own employer-sponsored health plans through the pool.

That gives Oregon’s businesses much greater leverage – and larger discounts – than they would otherwise have under their own smaller group insurance plan.

“Keeping health care costs down is critically important to helping Oregon’s small businesses thrive,” said House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D-Portland). “Using the combined purchasing power of the state to deliver prescriptions at the lowest possible cost is of huge benefit to all Oregonians.”

The Oregon Prescription Drug Program was established by the legislature in 2003 to help seniors and low-income individuals afford their medications.

In 2006, voters approved Measure 44, opening up the program to uninsured Oregonians.

The Oregon Prescription Drug Program reports that it had 12,500 enrollees as of February 2007.

The plan saved those participants an average of $28 per prescription.

“Oregonians deserve better access to affordable prescription drugs,” said Rep. Mitch Greenlick, chair of the House Health Care Committee. “A bigger pool means lower costs for everyone. That puts us one step closer to solving Oregon’s health care crisis.”

The bill to expand Oregon’s prescription drug pool passed the House on a unanimous 57-0 vote.

It was designated a House priority on the Roadmap for Oregon’s Future, and is the fourth of those 12 initiatives to pass the House this session.

Senate Bill 362 previously passed the Oregon Senate by a 21-5 margin.

Following the Governor’s signature, it will take effect immediately.

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Hank Ruark April 5, 2007 7:39 am (Pacific time)

JAFO et al: Absolutely...demanded action. One of mine went from $60 monthly to more than $90, in six months ! BUT single-pay universal healthcare is paramount need, unavoidable in modern nation forced to compete against all others internationally.

JAFO; April 5, 2007 6:24 am (Pacific time)


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