The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee advanced a bipartisan bill Wednesday that seeks to reduce health care costs for low-income Floridians and reduce wasted prescription drugs.
HB 177, filed by Rep. Clay Yarborough, a Jacksonville Republican, and Rep. Nicholas Duran, a Democrat from Miami, would create a prescription drug donation repository program in which people and donate their unopened prescriptions to health care facilities, nursing homes, drug manufacturers and other medical providers to be dispensed to low-income, uninsured or underinsured patients.
“It is based on a very successful program that is included in Georgia and Iowa and several other states,” Duran told the committee. “With respect to Iowa, the program has provided $17.7 million in cost savings for low-income Iowans in the form of donated medicines and supplies.”
Since 2007, Iowa’s program has distributed 9.1 million units of free medication and supplies to more than 71,000 patients. In Wyoming, a similar program has saved $12.5 million in 10 years, and Oklahomans have saved $23.8 million since 2004.
The United States spends $333.4 billion annually on prescription medicines, $46.7 billion of which is paid directly by patients, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
No savings estimate exists for Floridians, but a similar state program created in 2006, limited to cancer medication and equipment, has received 40 donations since 2013.
The bill also outlines the safety measures pharmacists or approved practitioners must take when accepting prescriptions.
Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, has filed the bill’s Senate counterpart, which will next be heard by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.
This was not Yarborough and Duran’s first time filing the bill. Last Session, the Senate did not take up the bill in committee after the House approved it when time ran out at the end of the session. Book’s bill met a similar fate in House committees.
“The fact that it’s now passed two House committees and one Senate committee this early is a good sign,” Yarborough told Florida Politics.
The House committee approved an amendment Wednesday that removes the final fiscal impact of the bill — $150,000 salary for two new positions, $325,000 in recurring funds and $78,000 in nonrecurring funds — an amount already deemed insignificant by the committee analysis. The Senate committee approved a similar amendment in its hearing.
Unlike the cancer drug program, HB 177 would require repository sites to document each donation and submit a monthly report to the Department of Health.
The bill was approved by Health Quality Subcommittee last month and will next go to the Health and Human Services Committee.