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(The Center Square) – Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro has announced his department has begun the process of creating and administering regulation of pharmacy benefit managers in order to protect consumers and businesses.

House Bill 219 went into effect June 3 after passing unanimously. It calls for oversight as it relates to pharmacy benefit managers and allows for the denial of reimbursement for the maximum allowable cost pricing. The bill also requires benefit managers to have the drug in stock at a price below the maximum allowable cost.

The new law also authorizes pharmacists to decline to dispense a prescription drug or provide service to a patient if the amount reimbursed is less than the pharmacy acquisition cost.

“Alongside members of the General Assembly, advocates, pharmacy representatives, and industry stakeholders, we have been working towards this goal for years,” Navarro said in a news release. “Now, with these new powers, we say ‘No more.’ ”

The law will provide oversight of the multibillion-dollar industry to reign in pharmacy benefit managers, who act as middle men for prescription drug plans and play a role in which medications are covered, in addition to final costs.

Rep. Andria Bennett, D-Dover, who chairs the Pharmacy Reimbursement Task Force, said she has been working on the issue for years and has witnessed the predatory practices pharmacy benefit managers use to increase consumer costs.

“With healthcare cost emphasized throughout the pandemic, it is more important than ever to have these protections in place,” Bennett said in a statement. “This new law passed the General Assembly unanimously, and it did so because there are two things we all agree on: that the cost of prescription drugs is far too high, and that billionaire corporations should not be above the law.”

The legislation’s goal is to solve access and unequal treatment issues by using the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost for pharmacy reimbursement, which will eliminate unequal payments to pharmacies not in the network. This allows the department to investigate and enforce consumer protection measures, it said.

The department can conduct exams on registered pharmacy benefit managers under the law and will ensure fines and other enforcement actions against those violating the law, according to department.

The department said it will draft regulations based on input from stakeholders. Once the regulations are drafted, there will be a 30-day comment period open to the public.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.