House DFLers propose plan to reduce health care costs

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A group of House Democrats unveiled a plan Tuesday to help reduce health care costs for Minnesotans.

Reducing prescription drug costs is the priority in the House DFLers' proposal, which they released Tuesday. The lawmakers also hope to eliminate surprise billing, improve care for children and reduce waste in the state's health care system, an email news release says.

"This legislative package includes common sense solutions that specifically respond to what we are hearing from Minnesotans who want affordable, quality health care for themselves and their families," House DFL Deputy Leader Erin Murphy said in the release.

One in four Americans say they have trouble affording their prescriptions, which is why lawmakers hope to bring more transparency and cost reductions for Minnesotans.

Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, authored a proposal that would require drug manufacturers to report how much it costs to produce the drugs – and how much they're spending to advertise them, an email news release says.

“Prescription drug companies are often reaping huge profit margins on these drugs and we believe that Minnesotans deserve to know how much these big prescription drug companies are spending to bring drugs to market," Mullery said in the release.

(KARE 11 recently did an investigation on the real cost of prescription drugs. Read more about it here.)

Among the other proposals discussed Tuesday: additional funding for school social workers and school-linked mental health grants; eliminate "surprise billing" by prohibiting out-of-network providers from charging more than the cost for in-network services; better price disclosure for services; and increase funding to add eight inspectors to the Office of Inspector General, which audits medical-assistance programs, to reduce medical assistance fraud.

However, Democrats, who are the minority in the House, are expected to get some pushback from Republicans, the Star Tribune says.

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