News Department

Gov. Murphy signs legislative package to make prescription drugs more affordable for New Jerseyans

NEW JERSEY – As part of the Murphy Administration’s ongoing efforts to advance health care affordability on behalf of the residents of our state, Governor Phil Murphy Monday signed three bills he announced in partnership with legislative sponsors last year to help make prescription drugs more affordable for New Jerseyans.

The three bills, which were signed alongside legislators and advocates, will work together to cap certain out-of-pocket costs, establish greater oversight of Pharmacy Benefit Managers, and promote transparency across the pharmaceutical supply chain.

“This is a huge step forward in our ongoing efforts to deliver much-needed relief to countless families throughout our state who are struggling to afford critical medications,” Murphy said. “I am proud to sign nation-leading legislation that will make a real difference in the lives of New Jerseyans as we continue to work towards making prescription drugs and other health care services more affordable and accessible to everyone.”

Today’s bill package advances one of the most comprehensive prescription drug price transparency programs in the country to date. The legislation also makes New Jersey only the second state in the nation to cap out of pocket costs for asthma inhalers and EpiPens in addition to capping consumer costs for insulin.

The three bills the Governor signed today are:

  • S-1614 – Caps out-of-pocket costs for many residents by extending Medicare’s new $35/month insulin out of pocket cap to state-regulated markets and NJ public employee plans, as well as capping out of pocket costs for EpiPens and asthma inhalers at $25 and $50 respectively for a month’s supply.
  • S-1615 – Creates a new data and transparency system within the Division of Consumer Affairs to collect, analyze, and report on the entire process of drug pricing across the supply chain in an effort to gain greater insight into drugs with high price increases and launch prices. The bill also establishes a Drug Affordability Council to formulate legislative and regulatory policy recommendations that help advance the goal of prescription drug affordability and accessibility.
  • A-536/2841 – Establishes greater oversight of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), the third-party companies who manage many prescription-drug plans, to prevent certain practices that drive up costs. This bill requires rebates to be used to lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs for consumers and prevents the practice of spread pricing (when a PBM pockets the difference between what it charges a health plan and reimburses a pharmacy). It also requires PBMs to apply for a license from the NJ Department of Banking & Insurance to strengthen regulatory oversight.

With more than half of New Jersey residents concerned about the affordability of prescription drugs and one in four adults skipping or rationing their medications – an issue seen throughout the nation – the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency worked closely with legislative partners and other community stakeholders to advance this legislation for prescription drug affordability. Governor Murphy launched this office in 2020 to lead efforts across the Administration to make health care more affordable for residents and address the unsustainable rise in health care costs.

To further advance prescription affordability, the Governor also included funding in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget to expand eligibility for the Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program, which further cuts the costs of life-enhancing and life-saving prescription drugs for seniors and residents with disabilities. A companion bill signed on the same day as the budget, in addition to authorizing the eligibility expansion, will help get even more eligible New Jerseyans enrolled in both PAAD and the Senior Gold Prescription Discount program going forward.

The following legislators sponsored one or more of the three bills signed: Senators Joseph Vitale and Troy Singleton and Assemblyman John McKeon, in addition to Senators Nellie Pou, Linda Greenstein, and Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Roy Freiman, Angela McKnight, Robert Karabinchak, Bill Moen, Gabriela Mosquera, Annette Quijano, Paul Moriarty, Joseph Danielsen, Daniel Benson, and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.

“Far too many New Jerseyans have experienced the stress of affording the price of a medication, often cutting back on groceries, putting off bills, and even rationing or skipping doses. And unfortunately, prescription drug costs are just one factor pushing health care out of reach for many residents,” said Shabnam Salih, Director of the Governor’s Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency. “My Office is working to lower costs across the health care system through a comprehensive affordability agenda. This package is a critical part of that work and a huge step forward that will have a real impact on New Jersey residents. It would not have been possible without the Governor’s leadership and the commitment of our partners throughout the Administration, in the Legislature, and in the community.”

“These reforms help to address the burdensome high cost of prescription drugs that consumers face across our state,” said New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Justin Zimmerman. “Through greater oversight and increased transparency of the factors that contribute to prescription drug pricing, the state can take meaningful steps to reduce patient costs. Additionally, the department will now require Pharmacy Benefits Managers to meet stringent standards for licensure to prevent practices that can drive up prescription drug costs. The enactment of these measures demonstrates Governor Murphy’s commitment to improving access to and affordability of health care for New Jersey residents.”

“The high cost of prescription medication jeopardizes the health and well-being of the most vulnerable among us: low-income families, the elderly, the uninsured, and people with disabilities,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “I applaud Governor Murphy and the Legislature for taking these important first steps toward reining in the rising cost of prescription drugs in our state.”

“The Division of Consumer Affairs is dedicated to ensuring fairness and transparency in the market and we welcome the opportunity to shine a light on the high cost of prescription drugs,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Creating a system to collect, analyze, and report data on the entire process of drug pricing across the supply chain is critical to gaining greater insight  and promoting accountability in the drug industry. New Jersey consumers deserve nothing less.”

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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