STATEWIDE — Members of the Democratic party are proposing several bills aimed at making health care more affordable.
Democrats held a teleconference Monday night to introduce the “Making health care work for Maine package”.
Sen. President Troy Jackson, a Democrat from Allagash, is sponsoring two of those bills. One to lower the cost of healthcare and another to make generic medication less expensive.
He said it’s especially important since people have been suffering financially during the pandemic.
“It’s a crisis in this country and tonight is another opportunity to make sure if we push back against pharma,” Jackson said. “They are spending all kinds of money to make sure the Maine legislature doesn’t support this.”
Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, a Democrat from Arrowsic, is sponsoring a different bill that focuses on price transparency. She said the inspiration for her bill came from when a colleague of hers could not afford her insulin.
“She had struggled all her life with diabetes. And I remember conversations with her about her concerns about being able to afford in the future,” Vitelli said. “Paying for her insulin, and her equipment to keep the insulin in her body. And alive, frankly.”
She said the big pharma companies charge so much because they can.
“It seems really important to get as much light on this issue as possible,” said Vitelli. “Because if you don’t see something you cant’ manage it. You can’t change it. You can’t affect a difference in how things are operating.”
Sen. Ned Claxton, a Democrat from Auburn, echoed those same sentiments.
He is sponsoring a bill that would protect Maine consumers from unsupported price increases.
“I used to be able to prescribe EpiPens for $15. And then they went to $650,” said Claxton. “I used to be able to prescribe colchicine for seven cents. And then some very clever person got a hold of it, patented it, and charges seven dollars and 50 cents.”
He said those prices are not justified.
These bills are expected to go to work sessions and then to the floor of the house and senate.