Pharmaceutical prices increased by about 300 million dollars from last year

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JEFFERSON CITY -  Missouri Senate Interim Committee held a public testimony Wednesday to discuss the MoHealthNet Pharmacy Benefits budget after an increase in prices by almost 300 hundred million dollars from the year before. 

Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said the problem with the budget came from a few issues.

"It was a combination of things: the affordable care act, we had to make sure that all the children were being covered on the CHIP Program and so we added a lot of people there, we have increased almost two hundred thousand people in the last two years. And also some generic drug prices increases and CMS and Washington D.C., they have a lot of control over what we can do and they kind of tie our hands also. But we must find some solutions, and I think we will," Sater said. 

Sater said this increase is unacceptable. 

"We need to find some solutions because that increase is taking money away from education, transportation and other vital services," Sater said. 

The public testimony began with an explanation of the budget, followed by Dr. Joe Parks from Missouri HealthNet to describe the functions of Medicaid and ended with citizens testimonies. One of those testimonies came from Dar Walker, executive director at National Alliance on Mental Health. Walker has a son who battled mental illness is the past. 

"Medication failures can lead to emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and eventually death," Walker said, "That's the only 100 percent cost savings approach." 

Walker said it is important patients have access to effective medications at the right time during treatment plan to avoid failed drug therapies. 

"My son has gone through a few of those and they are catastrophic. So we don't want people to end up in jail. We want them to have access to the right medications and that provides a cost savings across the state," Walker said. 

Sater said we need to find solutions. 

"There are a few ideas that we are thinking about but we do not want to decrease the health outcomes of our Medicaid populations and we want to make sure they get the best health care possible, but we also need to control costs and so we are looking for solutions," Sater said.