Maine Democrats on Monday announced a renewed push to lower prescription drug prices and an effort to expand coverage for contraceptives.

Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Auburn) is sponsoring LD 1636, which would require the state to use prices charged in Canada for 250 drugs as the basis for the cost to Mainers. Claxton is a retired physician who said he often saw patients struggle to afford needed medicine.

“The price patients are expected to pay for prescription medication in the United States is staggering, especially when doing a quick comparison with the prices of the same medications on the other side of the Canada border,” he said during a virtual press conference. “Does it make any sense that the same drug will on average cost twice what that drug will cost on the other side of the St. John River?”

The measure is supported by the AARP of Maine and Consumers for Affordable Health Care. A recent survey showed three-quarters of Mainers are concerned about the cost of prescription drugs and many of them skip doses to save money, said Ann Woloson, executive director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care.

“The Maine Health Data Organization just last week released new data showing Mainers paid over $170 million more last year on just 25 drugs with the highest cost increase over last year,” she said.

Another bill, LD 1954, would require insurance companies to cover all types of contraceptive drugs, devices and products without deductibles, coinsurance or other cost sharing. It is sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash).

“Mainers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the health care or prescription medication they need to go to work, play with their kids and live their lives the way they ought to be able to,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s bill is supported by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which noted that several other states have passed similar measures.

“The reality is patients and clinicians should be able to determine the best medication for themselves, and it shouldn’t be insurance companies,” said Nicole Clegg, senior vice-president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

The Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee will conduct public hearings on both bills Tuesday.