OKlahoma State Capitol

Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, said the Prescription Access and Affordability Act was needed to level the playing field for pharmacy benefit managers’ retail pharmacy networks and small pharmacies. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World file

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday vetoed a bill intended to give patients the right to choose a pharmacy provider without paying a penalty.

“Senate Bill 841 attempts to regulate certain health plans sponsored by Oklahoma employers in such a manner that is preempted by, and disallowed by, federal law,” Stitt said in his veto message. “Legislation in other states that is similar to Senate Bill 841 has been struck down for impermissibly attempting to regulate health plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.”

Enacting the law would mean Oklahoma employers who have plans governed by that law would have “to incur substantial legal expense in order to have a federal court rule that Senate Bill 841 is preempted by federal law,” he said.

The bill was written to regulate pharmacy benefit managers, third-party negotiators between drug manufacturers and health plans. Pharmacy benefit managers help insurers decide which drugs to cover and contract with pharmacies to distribute the medications.

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