A health care advocacy group in Maryland has launched a radio ad campaign encouraging state lawmakers to defy Gov. Larry Hogan by permanently funding an oversight board for prescription drug prices.
The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative’s ad buy includes six radio spots that feature local leaders such as Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott calling for members of the House of Delegates to override Hogan’s veto of legislation for the funding.
“This is something that cannot wait for COVID-19 to be over,” Scott said during a virtual press conference Tuesday in support of the override. “We’ve had prescription [drug] issues in our state long before COVID-19 showed up on our doorstep.”
Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures, the 141 members of the House aren’t scheduled to make floor votes until next week. Half of the delegates will be in the House chamber and the rest in an annex in the House of Delegates building.
The Senate overrode Hogan’s veto 30-15 on Jan. 15 during the first week of the annual 90-day General Assembly session in Annapolis.
The legislature established the oversight board, the first of its kind in the country, in 2019 to assess and cap the costs of certain brand-name and generic prescription drug prices bought by state and local governments.
The board’s main goal, highlighted in the legislation approved two years ago: “To protect … stakeholders within the health care system from the high costs of prescription drug products.”
Lawmakers passed a measure last year to fund the board annually at $2 million. To show bipartisanship, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a Republican, supports the board.
“When you go to the drug store to pick up your prescription, the pharmacist doesn’t ask you for your voter ID card to see if you’re a Democrat, Republican or independent,” he said. “He’s interested in your copay and your insurance. The board’s work … will have a tremendous benefit not only to local governments, but eventually to our seniors and our citizens that have to pay these costs.”