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Three kinds of health measures blue states are pursuing this year

Democrat-led states are focusing on prescription drugs, flavored tobacco and single-payer health care

The 2023 legislative session is moving full steam ahead.  

We recently wrote about legislation red states are pursuing. In today’s edition, we take a look at blue states, where lawmakers are moving to ban flavored tobacco products, curb prescription drug prices and expand health coverage for residents.

It’s still unclear how many of these initiatives will become law given industry lobbying and political barriers. But here’s a look at some of the legislation on tap in states where Democrats set the legislative agenda:

Prescription drug affordability boards

One idea gaining traction to tamp down on pharmaceutical prices is to create a prescription drug affordability board (PDAB). These nongovernmental bodies are typically staffed by health-care experts who are tasked with identifying high-cost drugs and suggesting policy options to make them more affordable for consumers and state health budgets.

Lawmakers have introduced legislation to establish their own PDAB in at least five blue states this sessionMinnesotaNew MexicoIllinoisMichigan and Rhode Island. If enacted, they’d join seven other states that have passed laws creating the independent panels since 2019.

The authority that PDABs have to drive down drug prices varies by state; although, since many are still in their infancy, it remains to be seen what will be most effective. We’re watching Colorado and Washington particularly closely, since their boards are empowered to set upper payment limits on certain high-price drugs that its members deem unaffordable.

  • “This is really about having something in between the monopolistic power of a large entity and individual consumers that have to buy things from that large entity to live,” said Minnesota state Rep. Zack Stephenson (D), a primary sponsor of legislation that would establish a PDAB in his state.  

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