TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 357: Pharmacies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers, sponsored by State Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa). It was sent to him for consideration after passing with unanimous, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate during the 2022 Legislative Session.

EMPOWER Patients, a coalition comprised of independent and community pharmacies focused on increasing access to affordable medication by eliminating pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), issued the following statement from coalition member and Executive Vice President and CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association, Michael Jackson.

“PBMs are middlemen in the prescription drug supply chain. These wealthy, influential companies are uniquely positioned to prey on local pharmacies – which are often designed to serve the underserved in rural and inner-city neighborhoods – eliminating healthy competition in order to further line their executives’ own pockets. They hurt small businesses and thereby compromise patient care, and those involved in Florida’s Medicaid program profit millions of taxpayer dollars annually.

“The signage of HB 357 sends a clear message: Enough is enough. Long overdue, PBMs will now be subject to existing regulation under the Office of Insurance Regulation, ensuring they comply with strict requirements intended to protect community and independent pharmacies, patients in need, and hard-working taxpayers.

“EMPOWER Patients thanks the governor for his actions today, and we also extend our gratitude to Rep. Jackie Toledo, Sen. Tom Wright, and Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez for championing such an important issue during the recent legislative session.

“Still, recent revelations involving Florida’s Medicaid program show the state’s largest managed care vendor, Sunshine State Health Plan, failed to pay more than 121,200 claims for several months. When coupled with the independent report from December 2020 that found state-contracted PBMs profit nearly $90 million annually through spread pricing alone – a practice banned in many states wherein they overcharge insurers and managed care plans and pocket the difference – we can’t help but question what oversight from this particular agency will look like, what’s more, who will be held accountable for inevitable errors in the future.

“Ultimately, EMPOWER Patients has gained significant momentum of late, and we look forward to building on our work to continue righting the wrongs of unfair PBM business practices and instilling a necessary level of transparency within Florida’s pharmacy industry in the years ahead.”

For more information and to access EMPOWER Patients’ response to HB 357 passing both legislative chambers on Wed., March 3, 2022, please click here.  

About EMPOWER Patients

The EMPOWER Patients coalition formed in 2020 to focus on supporting policies that empower patients to take back control of their health care, increase access to affordable medication, restore the patient/pharmacist relationship, and drastically cut the role of prescription drug middlemen in prescription drug decision making. EMPOWER Patients is comprised of the American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc., Aspire Health Pharmacy Services, Florida Independent Pharmacy Network, Florida Pharmacy Association, Pharmacy Provider Services Corporation, Walgreens, and hundreds of neighborhood Florida pharmacies.