Every week a General Assembly panel delays approval of a prescription drug rebate program, it costs the state $200,000. But a majority on this committee has sided with the pharmaceutical manufacturers and is only too glad to postpone implementation. The ultimate losers will be the legislators' own constituents, who once again end up paying for the lawmakers' intransigence.
Members of the Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee don't seem to care. As long as the drug manufacturers' lobbyists are content, so are the legislators. That's the impression left after the panel ignored the testimony of an assistant attorney general and the state health secretary and swallowed the litany of the drug manufacturers opposed to this rebate plan.
The idea is not new. Federal law requires pharmaceutical companies to give Washington a rebate of 5 percent of the cost of all prescription drugs purchased by patients covered by federal Medicaid programs. It amounts to a volume discount from the manufacturer. All the Schaefer administration wants is to extend the rebate to two medical assistance programs funded entirely by the state.