Drugs imported from Canada could lower costs in Florida

In most states, Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start on Jan. 1. According to data released by the Obama administration, health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act will cost less than predicted.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis believes the state could lower health care costs by importing prescription drugs from Canada, but the proposal is drawing concerns from some lawmakers and industry insiders.

Getting a handle on the state’s increasing health care costs is the top legislative priority for House Speaker Jose Oliva.

“48 percent of our budget this year will be health care,” said Oliva. "The current trajectory is such that it will take over half our budget in just two years.”

DeSantis says the lower price of Canadian drugs could reduce Medicaid and prison health care costs for the state.

A law passed by Congress in 2003 allows states to import medications from Canada if the country can prove it would lower costs, but any importing plan needs approval from the Department of Health and Human Services.

DeSantis’ plan would also allow wholesalers and pharmacists in the state to import prescriptions to lower costs for average Floridians.

But Senate President Bill Galvano worries that aspect wont sit well with the feds.

“Once you're moving across from state to state or from other countries to our state it's interstate commerce, and that's the province of the US Congress,” said Galvano.

Michael Jackson, Executive Vice President of the Florida Pharmacy Association, said he worries about the quality of imported drugs.

"Have they undergone scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration? Are they safe? Do they meet all the standards for quality and effectiveness?” said Jackson.

In the 14 years the federal law has been on the books, not a single state has been given the green light to import Canadian drugs, though DeSantis says he has the backing of President Trump.

A bill to enact the Governor’s proposal has been filed in the House. It would direct the Agency for Health Care Administration to submit a proposal to the Federal Government by July of 2020.