Black Caucus Makes Prescription Drug Bill a Top Priority for 2019

    Add the Legislative Black Caucus to the list of groups endorsing legislation that would establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board in Maryland.

    The measure is designed to rein in soaring costs that put lifesaving drugs out of reach for many Marylanders.

    “The need for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board has never been greater as drug costs continue to rise,” said Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. “This will be a key priority in the upcoming session for the Legislative Black Caucus, and we will work hard to pass this critically important legislation. It’s crucial for all Marylanders, especially people of color, to have fair and affordable costs for the prescription drugs we need.”

    The legislation would create a watchdog state board requiring drug manufacturers to justify the high cost of their medications and establish reasonable rates Marylanders would pay for prescription medications. The proposal has already received pledges of support from 116 incoming members of the newly elected General Assembly, including 28 senators and 88 delegates, which is well over a majority in both houses.

    Similar legislation passed overwhelmingly in the House earlier this year, but failed to make it to the Senate floor on the final day of the General Assembly session.

    “I’m thankful the Legislative Black Caucus will support us in the 2019 General Assembly,” said state Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County), the lead Senate sponsor for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation. “No one should have to decide between paying their rent and paying for a prescription. And with the Caucus’ support, we’re one step closer to ensuring affordable prescription drugs for all Marylanders.”

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    Josh Kurtz
    Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.