Madison, Wisconsin— This week, Insurance Commissioner Nathan Houdek and Deputy Commissioner Rachel Cissne Carabell met with lawmakers and AARP advocates to hear their personal stories about the impact of high prescription drug prices.
“Throughout Wisconsin, too many people are being forced to cut pills in half, skip doses, ration their insulin, or not fill their prescriptions simply because the cost of these drugs is too high,” said the Commissar Houdek. “I am grateful to the committed advocates who sat down with us to share their stories of high drug prices and unexpected price fluctuations impacting their daily lives. Unfortunately, their stories are not unique. That’s why it’s critical that we implement the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices to help all Wisconsin residents get the medications they need.
A 2019 study found that three in ten people do not take prescribed medications due to financial burden. The price of insulin has increased significantly, from $40 per vial in 2001 to $289 per vial in 2018 for a commonly used brand.  Some Wisconsin families are even forced to choose between paying their heating bill or filling their vital prescription.
To combat these rising costs, Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order No. 39 in 2019 to create a task force focused on reducing prescription drug prices. Commissioner Houdek chaired the Governor’s Task Force, coordinating the work of a diverse coalition of pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurers, drug benefit managers, pharmacists, consumer advocates, state agencies , etc., who have worked to examine and find solutions to this complex problem.
Building on the work of the task force, Governor Evers included 20 of these initiatives in his 2021-2023 Executive Budget. Overall, the proposals included in the Governor’s budget represent one of the boldest and most comprehensive approaches our state has ever taken to control drug costs and increase accessibility to prescription drugs. These measures were removed from the Governor’s budget by the Joint Committee on Finance and reintroduced into the “Less for Rx” package by several lawmakers, including Rep. Lisa Subeck and Senator Kelda Roys. None of the bills included in this package passed before the legislature adjourned for the end of the session in March.
“It’s critical that Wisconsin address prescription drug pricing because drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. Governor Evers’ proposals that became known as the ‘Less for Rx’ package are important steps forward in combating spiraling prescription drug prices,” said Lisa Lamkins, AARP Advocacy Director.
Among more than a dozen measures, the governor’s 2021-23 budget proposals would have created the Office of Prescription Drug Affordability to oversee and regulate the pharmaceutical supply chain and serve as a watchdog for consumers. of Wisconsin. It would also have created a Prescription Drug Affordability Review Council to set prescription drug spending targets and establish reasonable price limits.
Learn more about the Governor’s Task Force proposals here.