Joint Committee Examines Health Issues
The Texas Joint Committee on Health Services is examining the high cost of prescription drugs in Texas, and the prices that state assistance programs are charged for those drugs. Meeting at the Senate Chamber today, the committee heard testimony on the issue from agencies, drug companies and the general public. The 77th Legislature ordered state agencies to implement cost-containment procedures and today the committee wanted to see how well those actions were working.
The first witness was Don Gilbert of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. He told the panel that the agency is carefully monitoring the Medicaid trust fund and that his agency is combining certain functions in an effort to save money.
Joe Walton, chair of the Texas Department of Health Interagency Council on Pharmaceticals Bulk Purchasing spoke to the committee regarding the progress the state is having in getting drug costs down by purchasing in large quantities. Kenneth Hobbs from the Employees Retirement system said that his agency saved more than four million dollars in one year by carefully managing drug costs. Jose Williams described other programs that are working to cut the state's drug costs.
Ken Ardoin of Pfizer and Gaspar Laco of GlaxoSmithKline spoke about programs their companies have instituted to help Texans who are receiving government help get medicines at reduced prices. `
The Texas Joint Committee on Health Services includes Senator Judith Zaffirini and Representative Patricia Gray, co-chairs, as well as Senators Robert Duncan, Jane Nelson, Eliot Shapleigh and Steve Ogden. Members from the Texas House include Representatives Garnet Coleman, Craig Eiland, Kyle Janek, and Arlene Wholgemuth. The meeting recessed subject to the call of the chair.