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A bill tightening restrictions on companies that pay prescription drug claims for health plans was on its way to Gov. Asa Hutchinson after passing 93-0 in the House on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 520, sponsored by Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, builds on rules for pharmacy benefit managers enacted during a special session last year.

The House sponsor, Rep. Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne, said it would address a "loophole" in the current law by prohibiting certain types of payment reductions to pharmacies known as "clawbacks."

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

The bill also prohibits pharmacy benefit managers from earning profits by charging health plans more than the companies pay pharmacies for the same drugs.

It also requires the companies to report to the state insurance commissioner on the rebates they receive from drug companies.

The bill also clarifies that pharmacy benefits managers hired by Medicaid managed care companies, which on March 1 took over providing health benefits to Medicaid recipients with significant mental illness or developmental disabilities, are subject to state Insurance Department regulation.

Restrictions in the bill don't apply to pharmacy benefit managers hired by employer-funded health plans regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Senate unanimously passed SB520 last week. On Tuesday, three House members voted "present" and four didn't vote. Hutchinson plans to sign the bill, spokesman J.R. Davis said.

-- Andy Davis

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