AFL-CIO Group Aims to ‘Stir Up’ Debate Over Rx Drug Costs
Hoping to "stir up debate" over prescription drug reform well before the 2002 congressional elections, an AFL-CIO group of retired union members will this week launch a new campaign on the issue, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. The Alliance for Retired Americans will kick off its campaign with a rally on May 23 outside Pfizer headquarters in New York and the release of a new study "criticizing pharmaceutical companies for rising prescription drug costs." The group, which has a member list of about 2.5 million, also plans a "20-state blitz of events and lobbying" during the congressional recess beginning at the end of May. During the 2000 election, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports, Democrats "hoped the prescription drug issue would help tip Congress their way." But after a major counter-lobbying campaign by pharmaceutical companies, prescription drugs "didn't turn out to be one of the major issues, surprisingly," University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said. This year, backers of prescription drug reform are increasing grass-roots efforts and are "not just going to surface during a campaign," Ed Coyle, the Alliance for Retired Americans exec. director, said. "We want to make sure these folks are involved all year long," he added. Meanwhile, the drug industry-backed Citizens for Better Medicare has "a similar plan." The group -- which led special-interest spending during the 2000 campaign, according to a recent study by Brigham Young University's Center for the Study of Elections and Advertising -- is "focusing on grass-roots mobilization" through events and direct mail to 300,000 people, according to spokesperson Rachel Milet (AP/Baltimore Sun, 5/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.