Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 91st General Assembly
March 16th, 2018 • News

March 16, 2018

  • It was an intense and productive week at the Capitol, when the legislature completed a three-day special session addressing several complex issues.
  • As far as your neighborhood pharmacist is concerned, the most important bill strengthens consumer protection and enforcement of fair business practices.
  • The new law requires pharmacy benefit managers to be licensed by the Insurance Department. It takes effect September 1, and will make Arkansas the first state in the country to regulate pharmacy benefit managers, also known as PBM’s.
  • PBM’s negotiate contracts between health insurance companies and local pharmacies, and since the beginning of the year, local pharmacists have been hit hard by reduced reimbursements from the PBM’s.
  • Pharmacists testified at legislative hearings that in some cases they were not even getting paid enough to cover the cost of filling prescriptions.
  • Consumers will benefit from the new Arkansas law because it prohibits PBM’s from imposing a gag rule on pharmacists. Previously, pharmacists were not allowed to advise customers on alternative prescriptions that were equally effective, but not as expensive.
  • Also during the special session we changed language in the Arkansas open container law. It needed to conform exactly with language in federal regulations, to make sure that we continue to receive about $12 million dollars a year in federal highway funding.
  • Another new law adds a tax incentive for families with children in private or religious schools. It expands a program that offers parents tax incentives for setting up a college savings account, which they can draw from to pay college tuition. Now, they will get similar tax breaks if they use the account to pay tuition at private and religious schools.
  • Also, we passed legislation that allows drivers of all terrain vehicles to travel on public roads if they’re going from one off-road trail to another.
      Click to Listen - Audio Recording from March 16, 2018