Skoufis, Schmitt slam Cuomo for his veto of PBM Accountability Bill

Albany. Advocates say the legislation regulating pharmacy benefit managers would have prevented them from causing higher costs for pharmacies and patients.

Albany /
27 Dec 2019 | 02:36

Governor Andrew Cuomo last week vetoed a measure that would have provided for accountability of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), companies that own drug stores and also set pricing on prescription medications.

According to the website for amNewYork, "Independent pharmacists have been advocating for the legislation, which they say would prevent PBMs from causing higher costs for pharmacies and patients. The legislation would require PBMs to be regulated and licensed.

"PBMs can charge insurers a higher rate for claims, then reimburse pharmacies at lower levels and keep the difference, in a method called “spread pricing.” The method cost New York State around $300 million last year in its Medicaid managed care program, according to Pharmacists Society of the State of New York.

Governor has 'sided with drug company middle-men'

"With his veto," state Senator James Skoufis said, "Governor Cuomo inexplicably sided with drug company middle-men, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), instead of consumers and independent pharmacists. PBMs are engaged in highway robbery and S.6531, endorsed by the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee's investigative report, would've begun to reign them in.

"After a six-month long investigation, my team was able to provide data and evidence proving the necessity and urgency of this bill’s enactment," Skoufis added."Over my tenure in the Legislature, I’ve heard plea after plea from mom-and-pop pharmacy store owners who are being strangled by a calculated and greedy industry; I’ve met with constituents whose medication prices have become untenable. It’s beyond disappointing that the Governor couldn’t follow through with the Legislature’s efforts to stand up against Big Pharma. I pledge to continue this fight so that New Yorkers aren’t choosing between keeping the lights on or paying for medication."

Schmitt, too, pledges to continue the fight

Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt also took exception to the governor's veto.

“I am disappointed that the Governor has vetoed bipartisan legislation meant to protect New York consumers and ensure access to vital health care services through our local pharmacies," Schmitt said. "A.2836A was one of the nation’s toughest PBM bills that had significant bipartisan support because it would help New Yorkers in every corner of our state. Sadly, due to Governor Cuomo’s veto, local pharmacies will continue to close and vital access to medication and medical services will be cut off for many.

"As co-sponsor of the bill," Schmitt added, "I pledge to work with my colleagues to continue to advance efforts to protect consumers and health care access despite the Governor’s actions."