Senate Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Stabenow Bill to Crack Down on Gag Clauses that Force Customers to Pay More at the Pharmacy Counter

Legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration

Friday, September 07, 2018

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), today announced that the Senate unanimously passed her bill, the Know the Lowest Price Act (S. 2553). This bipartisan bill cracks down on outrageous gag clauses that stop pharmacists from telling customers that they could pay less for their prescription if they pay out of pocket. Senator Stabenow’s legislation is part of her plan to lower the prices of prescription drugs for Michigan families.


U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John Barrasso (R-WY), Rand Paul (R-KY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dean Heller (R-NV), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) are also co-sponsors of the legislation.


“It’s wrong that a person overpays for their medication simply because their pharmacist is not allowed to tell them they could pay a lower price with cash instead of insurance,” said Senator Stabenow. “My bill bans this outrageous practice and takes an important step toward lowering the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs.”


"Michigan pharmacists are active members of the community and are committed to providing quality care to our patients and their families," said Larry Wagenknecht, CEO of the Michigan Pharmacists Association. "With passage of Senator Stabenow's Know the Lowest Price Act, pharmacists will be able to help their patients pay less for the prescriptions they need."


Many customers have no idea that they could pay less for their prescription if they pay out of pocket rather than using their insurance at the pharmacy counter. That’s because many pharmacists are prohibited from telling their customers that a prescription to treat diabetes or high blood pressure may cost only $8 out of pocket instead of $20 through insurance coverage. One 2018 report found that customers overpaid for prescription drugs at the pharmacy counter 23% of the time. And many pharmacists are frustrated that they can’t help their customers save money.


The Know the Lowest Price Act cracks down on this practice by prohibiting Medicare Part D Plans from restricting a pharmacy’s ability to provide drug price information when there is a difference between the cost of the drug under the plan and the cost of the drug when purchased without insurance.