Legislative Guardrails Prevent Prescription Drug Board Crash

Donald J. Pfundstein
Published on : 2023-07-20

The Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) again faced potential dismantling this legislative session.  Turning the threat into a catalyst for meaningful improvement, the bipartisan duo of Representative Jess Edwards (R) of Auburn and Representative Peter Leishman (D) of Peterborough molded HB 2 to keep the Board from the precipice.  The wisdom and constitutionality of assessing fees to fund the PDAB were earlier questioned by the Fiscal Committee and Administrative Rules Committee (as an unconstitutional tax).  The legislative pair urged that the assessment provision be eliminated from existing law.  They proposed a general fund source of revenue and acceptance of donations from any interested PDAB proponents.

House Finance Division III Chair Edwards worked tirelessly on finding a constitutionally sound path to achieving an efficient, non-duplicative and conflict of interest- free method of PDAB governance, transparency and oversight.

Significant improvements to the PDAB framework include:

1)     Eliminating the potentially unconstitutional assessment methodology (tax) and replacing it with the state budgeting/appropriations process and donations;

2)     Hiring an unclassified executive director for no more than 2 years;

3)     Requiring competitive bidding for board contracts, including those for consulting or personal services.  Board contracts must also be approved by the legislative Fiscal Committee and the Governor and Executive Council;

4)     Mandating that the NH Insurance Department, in collaboration with the PDAB, issue a report on the elimination of redundancies related to the collection, analysis, and reporting on prescription drug prices, including proposed legislation;

5)     Requiring the board to annually report on the amount, source and purpose of its spending and the progress of funded projects; and,

6)     Repealing the PDAB’s existing authority to impose fines up to $25,000.

HB 2 makes important improvements to the PDAB framework.  The legislature has provided for much needed oversight.  There is always room for further progress, but these upgrades will serve New Hampshire residents, businesses and taxpayers well.