Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am filing with the Secretary of State House Bill 05-1152, "Concerning lower-cost prescription drugs, and making an appropriation therefor." I vetoed this bill as of 1:53 p.m. today and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.
H.B.1152, under the guise of making prescription drugs more affordable, would create a massive new government program using multistate purchasing agreements and rebates, place the state in the pharmacy business, and threaten existing prescription drug benefits. This bill takes the precisely wrong approach to solving a substantial healthcare challenge. Far from targeting the poor, this new entitlement program would cover nearly two-thirds of all Colorado households.
Specifically, H.B. 1152 would provide a mechanism for individuals under 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level whose insurance does not pay for all of their prescription drugs to purchase lower-cost prescription drugs through the implementation of the Colorado Cares Rx program, the Colorado Rx Clearinghouse program, and utilizing the federal 340B drug pricing program. Since I have vetoed Senate Bill 05-102, the prescription drug list mentioned in this bill is no longer of concern.
Under H.B. 1152, Colorado would begin the journey toward becoming a major broker and supplier of prescription drugs. Through the Colorado Cares Rx program, the state would sell prescription drugs to eligible individuals at the same discounted rate received by the Medicaid program. With the state in the business of selling lower-cost prescription drugs in this manner, there would be a serious disincentive for employers to offer prescription drug benefits to their employees within their health plans, and accordingly, employees would be deferred to the state plan.
At a time when our state's budget is extremely strained, creating a massive new health care program is fiscally irresponsible. H.B. 1152 would utilize savings from the Medicaid consumer directed care legislation in House Bill 05-1243 to create an enormous program that I do not believe should exist. It is wrong to fund legislation with General Fund dollars created by an expected TABOR savings.
While I do not support H.B.1152, we must address the rising cost of prescription drugs and improve accessibility to those who cannot afford them. There are some beneficial and intriguing aspects to this bill, such as components in the Colorado Rx Clearinghouse program, which we should address in the 2006 legislative session. I commend the goal of the Clearinghouse in terms of disseminating information and educating individuals, especially those in the rural and under-served communities and minority populations, on low cost prescription drug programs. This program has great potential, and I look forward to working with the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center to further this goal in the coming months.
There are common-sense, focused and fiscally responsible ways to address the rising costs of prescription drugs. Creating a massive and costly government program that would threaten private sector coverage and cover two-thirds of Colorado households is not one of them.
Accordingly, I have vetoed this bill.
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