AUGUSTA — Members of a Maine legislative committee narrowly passed a proposal that supporters said would protect small pharmacies in the state.

The proposal is designed to stop insurance carriers from charging pharmacies certain fees or holding pharmacies responsible for certain fees. Supporters of the change said it would apply to fees such as those that aren’t apparent at the time the insurance carrier processed the claim.

The Legislature’s Health Care, Insurance and Financial Services Committee endorsed the proposal by a 5-4 vote on Thursday. The proposal will now face votes before the full Maine Legislature.

Democratic Sen. Nate Libby of Lewiston said local and independent pharmacies frequently get “jerked around by insurance companies just the same as everyday Mainers are.” He said the rule change would help them stay in business.

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