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Florida Health Groups, Businesses Join Campaign Against High Prescription Pricing

Nearly two dozen Florida businesses and healthcare groups have signed on to a national campaign to control prescription drug costs.  The effort has been buoyed recently by reports of astronomically high prices for every-day medications like Epi Pens.

Health insurance companies are putting the blame for rate increases on pharmaceutical companies. Now, a group called the , is trying to lobby state and federal lawmakers for changes. Audrey Brown heads the Florida Association of Health Plans. She says when the Affordable Care Act was passed, one of the few healthcare sectors that didn’t come under further regulation was the pharmaceutical industry.

"That’s where we’re seeing the ballooning of healthcare costs and so much of the spend-pharmacy. That’s where so much of the health care costs are going, so we need to look at the federal level and try to get some more transparency and competition," she said.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association recommends Congress allow the federal senior healthcare system Medicare, to negotiate prices directly with pharmaceutical companies. And Paul Sanford of the Florida Insurance council says Florida lawmakers could do the same in the Medicaid program, which serves low income people.

“We can run our Medicaid program and the state group program any way we want, as long as we have that exemption, and we have an exemption today, that allows us to do that.”

Congress is considering a bill that would require pharmaceutical companies to justify price increases over ten percent.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.
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