COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio lawmakers are aiming to decrease prescription drug costs with a reintroduced bill at the Statehouse.

The bill passed the Ohio House of Representatives last General Assembly, but was ultimately held up in a committee in the Senate. Leo Almeida, Ohio Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said legislation like it is crucial.

“Right now, there are Ohioans who are trying to make the decision of paying their utility bills, putting food on the table or paying for their prescription drugs,” he said.

It’s a problem Almeida said they have been trying to fix for years.

“Cancer patients are just struggling to meet those high expenses,” he said.

Right now, someone can go to the pharmacy and use what’s called a ‘co-pay discount’ to help curb the cost of their prescription.

“They utilize these copay discounts to help them out,” Almeida said. “However, they’re having to pay that amount later on throughout the year because it’s not being applied to their deductible.”

Now, there is a renewed effort to address the issue in House Bill 177. The bill would help cut those costs by requiring co-pays to be part of the deductible, and Almeida said that could mean the difference between patients continuing their treatment at all.

“If they are facing a co-pay of $100 to $500 for a prescription, they’re leaving it at the pharmacy because they simply can’t afford it,” Almeida said.

However, this bill would not apply to drugs where there are “medically equivalent” generic drugs to the more expensive name-brand.

“We’re really worried especially about new cancer drugs that come online because there’s not a generic equivalent available for those drugs and so those are even more expensive,” Almeida said.

HB 177 is sponsored by Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield). When she introduced the bill previously, she said, “the current co-pay accumulator policies discriminate against those with chronic illnesses,” but said this bill would cut out-of-pocket costs.

“There’s a variety of individuals who have a need for certain medications who this would benefit,” Almeida said.