The state Department of Health will convene a group of stakeholders to examine ways to contain prescription drug costs, as a result of legislation that passed the House today on a 78-19 vote.

SB 6569, sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, will bring together patient groups, hospitals, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the Health Care Authority, unions, businesses, biotechnology representatives and others to evaluate drug cost trends, impacts and other factors and report back to the Legislature with recommendations on ways to keep out-of-pocket costs down.

“If I hear anything from constituents, it is that they find it more and more difficult to afford to pay for prescription drugs,” she said. “These rising out-of-pocket drug prices are forcing households to choose between paying for prescriptions or paying for other essential items. And that’s a choice no one should ever have to face.”

“The complexity of this problem requires that all parties come to the same table and share their knowledge. The best way to explore and develop solutions is to give all sides the opportunity to share their perspectives, gather and analyze data and thoroughly develop policy options.”

Having already passed the Senate, the bill now goes to Gov. Inslee to be signed into law.

In other action today, the House unanimously passed a second bill by Cleveland that will allow county treasurers to accept electronic payments for transactions of any kind, including by credit card, charge card, debit card, smart card, stored value card, federal wire, and automatic clearinghouse system.

“We live in a digital age; it only makes sense to enable people and organizations to make payments to local governments electronically,” Cleveland said. “This is common-sense legislation to help us keep up with the times.”