Discussions with Decisionmakers: Senator Tom Butler

Discussions with Decisionmakers

Background

Senator Butler has been a member of both the Senate and House of Representatives and has served in the Legislature for over 30 years. He is on the Senate Healthcare Committee. Senator Butler is also a registered and certified pharmacist and recently passed a bill that allows pharmacies to find more affordable alternative drugs for patients.

What first prompted you to consider running office?

John Kennedy challenged youth in this country to run for office. When I left college, I joined the Huntsville JC. I like serving people.

How does your background help serve you on the Health Committee and also the Legislature?

Having a background in medical technology and pharmacy.

What are some of your legislative priorities this term?

The Pharmacy Benefit Manager bill which prevents practices of pharmacy benefit managers relating to patient steering to use mail-order pharmacies and prevents price discrimination. It requires the PBM to act as a fiduciary to clients and prevents them from stopping pharmacists from disclosing prices.

We need to give patients freedom.

What can be done to alleviate the unnecessary and growing administrative and regulatory burdens and laws being placed on the medical community by insurers and government payers like Medicare and Medicaid?

We are spending about a billion dollars a year on Medicaid, but we need to monitor how it is administered and what it costs taxpayers.

What do you think people understand the least about our healthcare system?

People don’t understand how long it takes to fill a prescription. Overall, people want healthcare as fast as possible. People also sometimes don’t understand the financial side of healthcare, and just how expensive it really is.

If you could change anything about our state’s health care system, what would it be?

Prevent medical shortages in rural communities. We don’t have enough physicians in rural communities. It is hard to see current physicians fleeing rural areas due to a lack of incentives. We need more incentives.

Do you have a position on the expansion of Medicaid?

I can’t support it right now for one reason: it would cost us $300 million in new funding, and I don’t see how we can take that on right now. I would like to see greater access to quality healthcare, but I don’t believe this costly choice is the state’s best option

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