Lawmakers advance bill ending “gag clauses”

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce health subcommittee advanced a bill to ban the use of “gag clauses” in health insurance contracts that prevent consumers from paying lower prices for prescription drugs.

The subcommittee unanimously advanced the reform as part of a series of six healthcare bills during a markup hearing last Friday.  One of the pieces of legislation is a draft bill that bans private insurers and drug middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers from inserting “gag clauses” into contracts with pharmacies.

The clause prohibits the pharmacist from telling a consumer it is cheaper to pay for a durg out of pocket rather then through insurance.   The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit such “gag clauses” for seniors on Medicare.  Another bill aimed to private plans is still under considerations.

The West Virginia Pharmacists Association successful in passing similar legislation during the 2018 Legislature.