By Kate Long
"When you're talking about prescription drug prices, the best thing a state can do right now is to help get those generic drugs onto the market," said Jerry Flanagan.
"The second-best thing is to create a very big purchasing pool that everybody can be a part of."
West Virginia is doing both of those things.
Flanagan specializes in health insurance issues for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. He seconds the views of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG).
U.S. PIRG recommends that states (1) establish bigger prescription drug buying pools for government, business and individuals, (2) increase people's access to generic drugs, and (3) use preferred drug lists to steer people away from high-priced drugs that are no more effective than lower-priced drugs.
It feels good to hear national advocates urging states to do things West Virginia is already doing, said Ann Stottlemeyer, Commissioner of the Bureau of Senior Services.
"For the past three years, we've done everything we could," she said, "but it's such a huge problem that we can't fool ourselves that we can solve it on the state level. Until it's addressed from a national viewpoint, there's only so much the states can do."
The state appears to be ahead of the curve.
More states want to join, Susman said. "If it does well, we eventually want to open it to small businesses too."