Special Session Begins with Attention on Pharmacy Benefit Manager Bill

'This bill ought to very easily receive the support it needs to pass'

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - With the ring of a bell the special session of the 91st General Assembly gets underway inside the State Capitol.

"I look for it to be an efficient session and hopefully something that will move the state forward in all directions," Jeremy Gillam, House speaker says.

Nine bills sit on the agenda issued by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

On Tuesday, various house committees reviewed and discussed the bills; one in particular is getting all the attention.

"The bills concerning the pharmacists and the PBMs, which is their benefits managers," Gillam says.

It's a law that would be the first of its kind in Arkansas, regulating pharmacy benefit managers after pharmacists around the state complained of reimbursement rates getting cut.

"So, this bill is designed to make sure that there aren't going to be abuses of that system," State Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) says.

State representative Charlie Collins in Fayetteville serves as chair of the house insurance committee, which reviewed this bill on Tuesday.

"People have really indicated support for the bill, so the reality is unless there's a lot of mind changing, this bill ought to very easily receive the support it needs to pass," Collins says.

Other items on the special session agenda include a variety of technical corrections to laws such as open-container restrictions, tax deferrals on tuition savings plans; also known as the 529 plan and animal liquid waste permits, which have been compared to recent issues with hog farms.

"Arkansas will be in a better place at the end of this week than the already wonderful place we're in today," Collins says.

Gov. Hutchinson adds: "The special session is always designed to go smoothly, quickly and to go home."

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