Cha-Ching! Lowering Rx Costs

Thursday, August 16th
3:30pm – 5:00pm

State agencies and legislatures are becoming increasingly active in their efforts to curb large and unpredictable prescription drug cost increases that make coverage unaffordable for consumers and state budgets. Areas of focus include:

  • Regulating pharmacy benefit managers;
  • Requiring manufacturer drug price transparency;
  • Prohibiting price-gouging;
  • Establishing drug cost review commissions for rate setting; and
  • Implementing state wholesale drug importation from Canada.

This session digs deep into the strategies behind these legislative approaches. Hear from experts and state officials who have taken on prescription drug costs.


Rene Mollow, MSN, RN, Deputy Director of Health Care Benefits and Eligibility, California Department of Health Care Services

René has been with the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) since 1995. In the Medi-Cal program, she serves as the Deputy Director for Health Care Benefits and Eligibility (HCBE). She provides leadership for benefit and eligibility policy planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of health care services and delivery systems under Medi-Cal and for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). HCBE is comprised of five divisions and one office: Benefits, Eligibility, Pharmacy Benefits, Primary and Rural Indian Health, Dental, and the Office of Family Planning. René works to ensure that policies, procedures, and related activities in HCBE conform to applicable state and federal policies, statutes and regulations. She assists the Directorate, Administration and State Legislatures in determining program direction consistent with legislative intent and consults with the Director and State Medicaid Director on issues of significant policy impact.



Virginia Lyons, Vermont Senator, Vermont State Senate

Vermont Senator Virginia “Ginny” Lyons serves as Vice Chair of the Health and Welfare Committee and on the Finance Committee. She Co-Chairs Vermont’s Commission on International Trade and State Sovereignty, Chairs the Joint Energy Committee, and serves on other Senate and community organizations. Ginny champions data informed policies that address public health, health care improvement, substance misuse, child and family resilience, consumer product safety, environmental and water quality, energy efficiency, and others. Ginny served as Town Select Board Chair for 15 years. As a College Biology Professor with a Doctorate form the University of Vermont, Senator Lyons developed and directed Pre-Medical and Allied Health programs.


Joshua Wojcik, Assistant Comptroller, Connecticut Office of the State Comptroller

Joshua Wojcik an Assistant Comptroller at the Connecticut State Comptroller’s Office. The Office of the State Comptroller is responsible for the employee and retiree medical, dental, and pharmacy benefit programs for 230,000 employees, retirees, and family members throughout the state. Joshua is responsible for the development and coordination of new policy initiatives for the office, oversees the implementation of new programs related to health care and state employee benefit changes and participates in all procurement activities for health care related vendors. Joshua represents the Office of the State Comptroller as a member of several health care related boards and committees and plays a lead role in negotiating the passage of major legislation promoted by the office related to health care, pharmacy costs or other significant issues.


Vincent DeMarco, President, Maryland Citizens' Health Initaitive

Vincent DeMarco is a long time advocate for public health causes including reducing teen smoking, underage drinking and gun violence, expanding health care access and making prescription drugs more affordable. He is the subject of a book by former FTC Chair and Advocacy Institute co-founder Michael Pertschuk entitled “The DeMarco Factor: Transforming Public Will Into Political Power.” He played a key role in the enactment of Maryland’s life-saving tobacco tax increase of 2007, alcohol tax increase of 2011, and Firearm Safety Act of 201, and anti-price gouging law for prescription drug prices of 2017 and is working to guarantee health care for all Marylanders. His work has resulted in legislation which has substantially reduced smoking in Maryland, giving Maryland the fourth lowest smoking rate in the nation, reduced drunk driving deaths as a result of the alcohol tax increase, and has expanded health care insurance to over 300,000 people. As National Coordinator of Faith United Against Tobacco, a national coalition of leaders from across the country working to reduce smoking, he played a key role in the enactment in June of 2009 of landmark national legislation to authorize the FDA to regulate tobacco products. He is the Board Chair of the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative working to increase renewable energy use in Maryland. And, as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, he is working to educate public health students from around the world on effective methods of advocating for public health policies. He has been recognized for his work by the organizations such as the Baltimore Sun which declared him “Marylander of the Year” in 1988, the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council which awarded him its 2002 “Ecumenical Leadership Award” and the Daily Record which named him one of Maryland’s 60 most influential people in 2010.


This session was made possible with support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation