Health Care Reform
An Important Message to the PACG Membership
As the Congressional effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act moves to the Senate, we progressives need to tell our senators to dump the draconian House bill which will cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance, reduce Medicaid for the most vulnerable, and give tax benefits to the wealthy and corporations (among other things). Tell your senators now to repair and strengthen the ACA, not replace it.
When the House and Senate bills move to the conference committee, we will evaluate that result and again have the opportunity to contact our representatives and senators with our opinions.
In the meantime, our Health Care Reform Forum is beginning an effort to raise awareness and understanding about a major factor in the ever-rising cost of health care: the rapidly escalating prices of prescription drugs. We have begun to submit a series of letters to the editors of the Quad City Times and the Dispatch/Argus, and we plan to include them in this newsletter. We hope they will help you to better understand this multi-faceted issue and to share this information with others. We need to tell our legislators that the pharmaceutical industry has shown that it cannot resist putting profits over people; therefore Congress must act in the public interest. Here is the first letter in this series.
PRESCRIPTON DRUG PRICING
One factor in the rising cost of health care, and therefore of health insurance premiums and copays, is the rapid escalation of prescription drug prices. Some medications have seen price increases of several hundred per cent over a few months or years. Many new drugs are priced much higher than the costs of development, testing, and bringing them to market. Protected by patents, and promoted by advertising, drug companies charge whatever the market will bear. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable in our economy.
But these escalating prices are paid for by the patients who need these treatments and by the insurance companies and government agencies that pay the bills. President Trump raised this issue in a meeting with pharmaceutical CEOs. Other politicians, Congressional committees and health care experts have also raised the alarm. Since drug companies can’t resist using all the “tricks of the trade” to raise prices and profits, only our government can bring some rationality and fairness into the system. But so far it’s all talk and no action.
One simple first step toward addressing this problem would be for Congress to change the law that forbids Medicare from negotiating prices with the drug companies. Private insurance companies, the Veterans’ Administration, and most governments around the world negotiate drug prices. Medicare should also. Tell your representatives and senators to act now to let fairness, competition, and market forces, rather than monopolistic practices, set the prices of our prescription drugs.