Governor Mills: "No one should have to choose between food, or fuel or medicine."

June 27, 2019

Hello. You know in 2017, the retail prices of some of the most widely prescribed medications that older Americans take to treat everything from diabetes to high blood pressure increased by an average of 8.4 percent - four times the rate of inflation.

Nationwide, one in four Americans struggles to pay for their prescription medication, while one in ten simply do not take their medicine as prescribed because of the high costs.

Good morning, I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.

You know no one should have to choose between food, or fuel or medicine.

Earlier this week, I was pleased to sign into law a comprehensive prescription drug reform package. These four new laws will allow the wholesale importation of prescription medicine, will create a prescription drug affordability board, will increase drug price transparency and will better regulate pharmacy benefit managers- those middle men you know.

I signed LD 1272, "An Act To Increase Access to Low-cost Prescription Drugs," sponsored by Senate President Jackson, because it is aimed at establishing a wholesale prescription drug importation program upon approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Now you may ask, "Will the Feds approve this?" Well, the President has said publicly that he would support similar measures in other states, like Florida and Colorado, so we’re counting on him to do it for Maine too.

I also signed LD 1499, "An Act To Establish the Maine Prescription Drug Affordability Board," also sponsored by President Jackson, that will create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to develop strategies to lower prescription drug costs including bulk purchases, and multi-state purchases, and/or rebates.

Then I signed LD 1162, "An Act To Further Expand Drug Price Transparency," sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, which will gather data to help us understand how the costs of development, advertising, and profits affect prescription drug pricing for consumers. This bill adds to previous legislation which I worked on with Senator Vitelli when I was Attorney General and became law last year.

And finally, I signed LD 1504, "An Act To Protect Consumers from Unfair Practices Related to Pharmacy Benefits Management," sponsored by Senator Heather Sanborn of Portland, that will prohibit pharmacy benefit managers from keeping rebates paid by manufacturers and will require those rebates to be passed along to the consumers in Maine or to the health plan.

Those four bills all got overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the committees and on the floor of the House and on the floor of Senate and I am very pleased with that bipartisan cooperation to address the drug prices in Maine.

You know it’s personal too. When my husband, Stan, suffered a stroke – which ultimately took him from us a year later – I learned an awful lot about the health care system in Maine firsthand.

We were lucky, we had insurance -- but dealing with copays and deductibles and the high cost of prescription drugs and fighting the insurance companies is a challenge for all of us.

Health care coverage should not be a luxury, or a privilege reserved for well to do people.

It is a human right.

I am proud that Maine is taking a major step forward in ensuring affordable, accessible health care for every Mainer, every small business, every entrepreneur, self-employed person and every family across the state.

I want to thank Senate President Jackson, Assistant Majority Leader Vitelli, Senator Heather Sanborn, Senator Foley, Representative Prescott, and the AARP and so many others for their hard work on this very important issue.

I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.