Alaska Becomes Latest State To Regulate PBMs

Published by Inside Health Policy

This week Alaska became the latest state to require pharmacy benefit managers be licensed. The bill, which passed the legislature via unanimous consent earlier this year, also bans gag clauses and lays out guardrails for PBM audits of pharmacies.

“Big money lobbyists and the insurance companies they work for have fought for nearly a decade to prevent a bill like House Bill 240 from passing. We got this bill across the finish line this session because saving Alaskans money on health care costs is not a partisan issue, it’s an Alaskan issue,” state Rep. David Guttenberg (D) wrote in a press release announcing the signing on Tuesday (Aug. 4).

There are growing calls to regulate PBMs. More than 30 states introduced some form of PBM legislation in 2018, making it by far the most common drug-pricing legislation being pursued in the states.

And state legislators are getting help from national groups who are pushing for lower drug prices. The National Academy for State Health Policy released model PBM legislation in August that includes licensure requirements.

Others say legislation may not even be necessary. Drug pricing advocates recently urged a room of insurance commissioners to tackle drug pricing, including regulating PBMs, without legislation.

Alaska’s law requires PBMs to register as third-party administrators biennially. It does not, however, include a requirement that PBMs “exercise good faith and fair dealing,” like a bill awaiting California Governor Jerry Brown’s (D) signature. — Nicholas Florko (nflorko@iwpnews.com)