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The Latest: Senate and House pass bill aimed at drug prices

Students from St. Hubert Catholic School in Chanhassen, Minn., look up inside the state Capitol rotunda in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Thursday, May 16, 2019, as state leaders work behind the scenes to try wrap up a budget deal in hopes of avoiding a stalemate that could require a special session. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Latest on work at the Minnesota Legislature (all times local):

2 p.m.

The Minnesota Senate and House have approved the final version of a bill for greater oversight over pharmacy benefit managers — the middlemen between insurers and patients that are supposed hold down drug expenses.

The Senate passed it unanimously Thursday, 67-0. The House then passed it 130-2 and sent it to Gov. Tim Walz for his signature.

The chief Senate sponsor, Chaska Republican Scott Jensen, says the bill will shine a needed light on the operations of pharmacy benefit managers in hopes of ensuring that rebates paid by drug manufacturers actually result in lower costs for consumers.

Jensen is a physician, as is the chief House sponsor, Rep. Alice Mann. The Lakeville Democrat says too many people are struggling to pay for their medications, and it shouldn’t be that way.

10:45 a.m.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and top lawmakers are still trying to wrap up a budget deal in hopes of avoiding a stalemate that could require a special session.

Walz spokesman Teddy Tschann says negotiations ended for the night around 12:30 or 1 a.m. Thursday and are expected to resume at some point in the afternoon. The governor, House Democrats and Senate Republicans have kept silent on whether they’re resolved any of the big issues of taxes and spending that have been the main hold-ups.

As of Monday, the last time the leaders made substantive comments on the status of the closed-door talks, the two sides were about $1.6 billion apart on a two-year budget that’s expected to total somewhere between $48 billion and $50 billion.

The Associated Press