By Mark Richardson
Polls show health care will be one of the biggest issues in the 2020 elections, and AARP is staking out its position on the high cost of prescription drugs.
The seniors’ advocacy group began running ads across Arizona this month for its Stop the Greed campaign, aimed at getting constituents to contact U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and urge her to vote for cutting the cost of prescription drugs.
Steve Jennings, associate state director of AARP Arizona, says the rising cost of pharmaceuticals is a hardship for many Americans, and especially seniors.
“We think the common sense solutions are to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, to cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries and to improve access to lower cost generic drugs,” he states.
Jennings says other issues include more transparency in drug pricing, limiting insurance companies’ ability to change drug formularies, allowing bulk purchasing by Medicaid programs and appointing Drug Affordability and Rate Setting Commissions.
He says AARP’s Stop the Greed program is aimed at giving state attorneys general and federal regulators the ability to stop price gouging by pharmaceutical companies.
Jennings says that Medicare currently spends about $129 billion a year on prescription medicines, but that federal law prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower prices with the drug companies.
With the average Medicare recipient taking 4.5 prescription drugs a month and having an annual income of just over $26,000, it’s a recipe for financial hardship.
“In 2017, brand name drugs increased in one year 8.4%,” he points out. “So, they’re going up much faster than people’s incomes are, and this creates a problem for people who are literally having to choose between food and medicine.”
Jennings says recent polling shows 78% of the electorate has a favorable opinion of AARP’s campaign to call on Congress to protect seniors and other taxpayers from being overcharged by big drug companies.
Disclosure: AARP Arizona contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here. Public News Service-Arizona
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