Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger Introduces Patient Right to Shop Act

U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-1st, introduced the Patient Right to Shop Act on Tuesday, July 18, a bipartisan bill that will prohibit gag clauses in pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) contracts to ensure patients can conveniently access information on the cost of their prescription drugs.

To compare the costs of prescription drugs, patients often use third-party transparency tools provided by their health plan or self-insured employer. These third-party tools enter into data-sharing agreements with insurers, as well as PBMs, to provide patients with online cost-saving insights, such as out-of-pocket costs and copayment, regarding their care. However, PBMs often insert anti-consumer ‘gag clauses’ into such agreements, which prohibit insurers from sharing this information with patients, sometimes even charging patients for access to their own data.

“As a pharmacist, I understand the patient’s need for transparency in drug pricing and better access to information about their medical care all too well,” Harshbarger said. “My bill, the Patient Right to Shop Act, will put patients back in the driver’s seat by prohibiting shadowy PBMs from engaging in anti-consumer behavior. This critical legislation will allow patients to better understand the costs of the health care and make more informed decisions regarding their prescriptions.”

The Patient Right to Shop Act has bipartisan support, with U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., as an original co-sponsor.

“Increasing transparency in health insurance plans helps hardworking Americans find health insurance that is right for their families and their health care needs. Yet Pharmacy Benefit Managers are withholding data and charging patients for utilizing transparency tools that would allow them to compare drug prices and ensure that they are getting a fair deal. That’s why I’m joining Rep. Harshbarger in introducing the Patient Right to Shop Act, to prohibit ‘gag clauses’ that curtail competition and hurt consumers,” Manning said. “I applaud my colleagues in the Senate HELP Committee for adopting this legislation as part of the PBM Reform Act and urge my colleagues in the House to support this bipartisan legislation.”

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