Good morning Senator Vitale and members of the Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to provide my testimony on the proposed establishment of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. My name is Dr. Brittany Holom-Trundy, and I am a senior policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). NJPP is a non-partisan, non-profit research institution that focuses on policies that can improve the lives of low- and middle-income people, strengthen our state’s economy, and enhance the quality of life in New Jersey.
NJPP supports S329, as it looks to provide evidence-based answers to a long-standing health care issue: high prescription drug costs that make even available medicine unaffordable for many New Jerseyans. The bill establishes an independent Prescription Drug Affordability Board, supported by sufficient funding, that will provide insight into the root causes of these high prices, and propose recommendations to address them.
I wanted to highlight two important aspects of the bill today which are often misread:
First, this bill as written fully incorporates the involvement of the Legislature in any further actions. The Board would provide their recommendations for policy changes (covering a variety of policy options) after a series of reports, but the step of approval of the recommendations would be left to the Legislature (this can be seen in subsection c of section 9, on page 12, line 33). The Legislature would then have the data to better evaluate the proposed policies in debate, and legislation would be required to move those proposals forward. We know that data helps inform those debates, particularly on health care costs, so setting this aside would simply prolong an issue. Additionally, we believe that the reports and data collected and shared by the Board would be helpful for the work of the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency, which has a much broader agenda in addressing health care costs and will benefit from focused studies.
Second, not only will the Board be able to provide guidance on savings and a variety of policy options, but it will do so with data from all stakeholders. Relevant actors, from pharmaceutical companies to consumers, will have the opportunity to provide their perspective and data on their role and the impact of drug pricing, including spending on research and innovation. The Board will take this information into account as they consider the recommended policies and plans.
As the country grapples with drug prices that are, on average, over 2.5 times those in other countries, several other states — including Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, and Oregon — have already passed legislation on similar drug affordability boards. With 88 percent of New Jerseyans across party lines supporting this valuable work (see survey sources below for further details), there is no reason to let New Jersey fall behind these states in seeking solutions for its residents. Now is the time to make this investment in New Jerseyans’ health. We hope that the Committee will agree and release this bill today.
Thank you for your time.
Altarum Healthcare Value Hub New Jersey survey, August 2020
AARP 2020 NJ Residents 18-Plus Prescription Drug Study