Senator Ed Hernandez
Chair, Senate Health Committee
State Capitol Room 2191
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: SB 1021 (Wiener) – Support
As Introduced, January 29, 2018
Dear Senator Hernandez:
Desert AIDS Project is pleased to support SB 1021 (Wiener), which will ensure consumers have access to vital medications by keeping existing consumer protections on prescription drug co-pays and formulary standards. SB 1021 will continue the co-pay cap of $250 for a 30-day supply of a prescription drug that was established by AB 339 (Gordon, Chapter 619 of 2015) and set standards for tiers in drug formularies. These consumer protections will expire at the end of 2019 if SB 1021 is not passed.
Prescription drug costs continue to skyrocket. Consumers are facing price increases on everything from longtime generics used to treat common conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol to new treatments for chronic diseases such as hepatitis C. Before the AB 339 consumer protections were put in place, Californians with serious and chronic conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), and lupus were particularly vulnerable to higher out-of-pocket costs because high-cost specialty drugs were often placed on the highest tier of a drug formulary. Consumers often reached their out-of-pocket limit of as much as $6,000 in the first month of the plan year when filling just one of their prescriptions.
For individual and small employer coverage, AB 339 also set standards for each tier of a drug formulary to help prevent health plans from routinely placing all specialty drugs on the highest cost tier. The bill also required health plans place a drug on a tier based on standards for safety and efficacy, not just its cost. AB 339 also prohibited health plans from placing most or all of the drugs to treat a particular condition on the highest cost tier of a formulary – preventing discrimination based on a health condition.
SB 1021 will maintain these protections, ensuring that all Californians, including those living with chronic conditions, are able to afford life-saving prescription drugs. This bill will also keep co-pays affordable for consumers and maintain standards for formulary tiers, helping consumers have access to the prescriptions they need.
For these reasons, we support SB 1021 (Wiener). Please contact Carl Baker, Director of Legal and Legislative Affairs at 760-656-8482 if you have any questions about our position on this bill.
Director of Legal and Legislative Affairs
cc: Members, Senate Health Committee
Senator Scott Wiener, author