AUGUSTA — Two new laws from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, aimed at increasing access to health care professionals and lowering prescription drug costs went into effect Thursday, Dec. 13. Both laws were passed during the 2nd Special Session of the 128th Legislature and became law without the governor’s signature earlier this year.
“Mainers aren’t asking for too much when it comes to health care. They shouldn’t be forced into bankruptcy by the cost of their prescriptions, and they shouldn’t have to travel two hours both ways to see a doctor,” said President Jackson. “Making sure Mainers have access to affordable health care was one of the main reasons I got into politics in the first place, and I feel no differently now.”
The first law effectively takes on “Big Pharma” by forcing brand-name drug producers to follow federal law. Brand-name manufacturers are supposed to provide samples of their drugs to generic producers, so that generic alternatives may be sold when the drug’s patent expires. This will increase the availability of generic prescription drugs, which are often cheaper than the brand-name versions.
The second law expands an existing tax credit program designed to bring more health care professionals into rural and medically underserved parts of the state, including Aroostook County.
Earlier this month, President Jackson and House Speaker Sara Gideon announced a reshuffling of legislative committees that included adding the issue of health coverage to the current Insurance and Financial Services Committee. The change aims to make the Legislature better equipped to tackle the high cost of health care for residents of the state.
Jackson was elected president of the 129th Maine Senate on Dec. 5. The new Legislature will convene on Wednesday, Jan. 2.