N.H., Maine and Vermont Form Joint Rx Drug Buying Plan
The governors of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont announced May 24 that the three states will band together to form a prescription drug purchasing pool, the AP/Manchester Union Leader reports. The joint buying plan -- the first in the country -- should be operational by Nov. 1. Under the plan, the three states will pool their Medicaid funding to give them "combined buying power." The states, which currently spend a total of $387 million annually on prescription drugs for Medicaid programs, estimate that the purchasing pool will save them 10% to 15% per year in prescription drug costs, as well as additional savings in administration of Medicaid funds and management of a drug formulary. Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) said, "Our Medicaid budgets are completely out of control. If we're going to maintain health benefits, we're going to have to control costs." Maine Gov. Angus King (I) said that programs such as the purchasing pool and Maine Rx -- Maine's prescription drug law that would allow the state to negotiate discounts on drugs for individuals without prescription drug coverage -- are "crucial" to bringing down the price of pharmaceuticals. New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) said, "The high cost of prescription drugs is a national problem, and its cries out for a national solution. But until Congress and the President take action, we are going to have to keep working here in New Hampshire." The governors said that they expect other states to join the pool, adding that Massachusetts and Rhode Island have "already shown interest" (AP/Manchester Union Leader, 5/25).