A medical marijuana advocate who goes by the name The Holy Hemptress holds a sign as she demonstrates outside the site in 2012 in San Francisco. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996.

A medical marijuana advocate who goes by the name The Holy Hemptress holds a sign as she demonstrates outside the site in 2012 in San Francisco. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996.

Did you know that you could be paying less for your medication? No, this is not an advertisement.

State representatives around the country have introduced bills that aim to eliminate the “gag rule” from pharmaceutical companies’ insurance plans. The “gag rule” is an obscure clause in many that prevents pharmacists from disclosing lower prices or cheaper alternatives for the drugs you need. More than 30 states have debated eliminating this rule. And about a dozen states have passed laws this year that aim to make drug pricing more transparent to consumers.

Most action on health care taken in states this year was in response to the opioid crisis. Legislatures in 45 states considered more than 480 bills in 2018 aiming to prevent and intervene in opioid misuse and overdose, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Red and blue states alike are also debating whether or not to expand Medicaid. Health care on the state level could look very different within the next few years. Republican state lawmakers want to expand Medicaid coverage, but with some caveats attached. Able-bodied recipients of health care would be required to work a certain amount of hours in order to receive coverage.

But not all red-state lawmakers are on the same page. Gov. Paul LePage of Maine opposes expansion, forcing constituents to take matters into their own hands. In November, four states are voting on the issue: Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and Utah. It’s the first time voters will directly weigh in on provisions of the Affordable Care Act since congressional Republicans tried to repeal it.

What changes in Medicaid policy at the state level are on the horizon? Are new state laws on opioids making a difference? How will new laws on drug pricing impact you or your family?

For the rest of our series “The State We’re In” on legislative trends and forthcoming ballot initiatives, click here.

Produced by James Morrison and Danielle Knight. Text by Jake Rutter.

Guests

  • Scott Greenberger Executive editor, Stateline, a journalism project of the Pew Charitable Trusts; @sgreenberger
  • Julie Rovner Chief Washington correspondent with Kaiser Health News; host, "What The Health?" podcast; author of "Health Care Policy and Politics A-Z"; @JRovner
  • Reid Wilson National correspondent, The Hill; @PoliticsReid

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