LANSING — House Democrats held a press conference this morning to unveil their Health Over Profits for Everyone (H.O.P.E.) package, aimed at lowering out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications and doctor visits while increasing accountability for pharmaceutical companies engaged in price gouging.

“No one should be put in the horrific position of having to choose between paying their mortgage or getting their prescriptions,” said state Rep. Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield). “Yet that is the reality thousands across the state face every day — something that is only going to keep getting worse as the cost of living continues to climb. We know that isn’t right, and that’s why our package is focused on addressing the out-of-pocket costs that force those choices in the first place.”

Prescription drug costs have continued to rise dramatically in recent years, with price increases rapidly outpacing wage growth and inflation. Among the provisions of the H.O.P.E. plan is legislation to create a Prescription Drug Consumer Protection Board to hold manufacturers accountable. As of 2016, Michigan had the fifth-highest prescription drug costs in the nation.

“Over 282 prescription medications are actively in shortage in this country, and drug prices are 30% lower on average in Canada,” said state Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown), who introduced a bill in the package to allow the importation of prescription medicine from Canada. “It’s time we give Michiganders access to the safe, low-cost prescription drugs they need and deserve.”

Legislation in the package would also cap the cost of co-pays for primary care and behavioral health visits to $5, address rising insulin and epi-pen costs, and open Michigan to the importation of Canadian pharmaceuticals. The H.O.P.E. plan represents the first of several packages House Democrats plan to unveil during October to expand access to health care to Michigan residents.

“Bad actors, driven by corporate greed, have preyed on the people of our state for far too long,” said state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia). “But if we don’t act now, prescription drug costs are only expected to keep rising. This package will put a stop to that price gouging and make a real different in the lives of Michiganders who are just trying to get by without having to give up the medicine they need.”