Jonesboro Lawmaker's Prescription Drug Bill Passes House

FEBRUARY 17, 2005 - Posted at 4:00 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas House today passed a bill that would let the state negotiate with drug companies for lower-priced prescription drugs.  Bill sponsor Dustin McDaniel (D) of Jonesboro wants to let the Departmente of Human Services negotiate for set drug prices.  He said that the plan could benefit 400,000 Arkansans who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford regular health insurance.

Some objected, saying they were worried that drug companies would, in turn, raise drug costs on others.

McDaniel said he came up with the idea for "Arkansas Rx" after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of similar program in Maine.

McDaniel said no drug company would be forced to offer rebates on drugs, but the market would likely force them to do so after competitors agree to put them in negotiations with DHS.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)