AARP Will Endorse One Prescription Drug Ballot Measure
AARP will endorse either Proposition 78 or Proposition 79 within the next two weeks, AARP California Director Tom Porter said on Friday, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Elias, AP/Contra Costa Times, 9/17).
Proposition 78 would establish a voluntary prescription drug discount plan for state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. The measure is supported by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Proposition 79 would require drug makers to participate in a prescription drug discount program for state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level or face exclusion from the Medi-Cal formulary in some cases. Under Proposition 79, people could sue a pharmaceutical company if they believe it is participating in illegal pricing practices. Health Access California and a coalition of labor groups support the measure (California Healthline 9/16).
Speaking at a meeting where backers of both propositions lobbied for AARP's endorsement, Porter said the prescription drug issue is "second only to Social Security" in importance to the organization (AP/Contra Costa Times, 9/19).
The Sacramento Bee on Monday published an analysis of a television advertisement paid for by pharmaceutical companies recommending that state residents vote in favor of Proposition 78 and against Proposition 79 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot.
According to the Bee, the ad's claim that Proposition 79 would create an "expensive new bureaucracy" is misleading because Proposition 78 also would create a government program, and the Legislative Analyst's Office has estimated that both plans would cost the state about $10 million annually.
The Bee reports that the ad "seems to suggest that all patients would find it harder to get drugs if Proposition 79 became law," but the "only patients who would possibly be affected" are Medi-Cal beneficiaries who could potentially have an extra step in acquiring brand-name drugs if the manufacturers declined to participate in the discount program.
The Bee analysis includes a transcript of the ad (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 9/19).
KCET's "Life & Times" on Monday is scheduled to include a segment examining the "major media battle" over the competing prescription drug propositions (Louie, "Life & Times," KCET, 9/19). The complete transcript and audio of the program in RealPlayer will be available online a few days after the broadcast.
Additional information on Propositions 78 and 79 is available online.