Governor Brad Henry Reiterates prescription drug plan

Tuesday, January 31st 2006, 11:37 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Gov. Brad Henry said Tuesday he will push for a reimportation plan to allow Oklahomans to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized countries.

"To get a handle on skyrocketing drug prices, we have to challenge the status quo and put pressure on the big pharmaceutical companies and the federal government," Henry said. "If we just sit meekly on the sidelines, nothing will change."

He said he is talking about safe drugs that are manufactured in the United States and approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

His legislation would allow Oklahoma pharmacies to reimport prescription drugs for resale to Oklahoma citizens. It also would create a state Web site to help Oklahomans buy cheaper, U.S.-made medications directly from outlets in Canada and other authorized countries.

"Reimportation alone won't address all of our health care needs, but it will deliver lower cost medications to Oklahomans almost overnight," he said.

Henry said drug companies began offering a number of new discount programs to consider last year after Democratic and Republican governors across the country began pursing reimportation initiatives.

The governor's health care program also includes an expansion of a small business health insurance subsidy program funded by cigarette taxes. It now applies to businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Henry wants to increase that to 50 or fewer workers.

Henry said he will propose spending $4.7 million for 10 percent pay raises for nurses at state facilities such as the veteran centers.

He also will propose an increase in Medicaid rates for state nursing homes that will cost $15 million in the next fiscal year and $20 million the following year.