Editorial, Opinion Pieces Address California Rx Proposal
Two newspapers recently published an editorial, a letter to the editor and an opinion piece addressing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposed California Rx program to provide discounts on prescription drug to some state residents. Summaries appear below.
San Jose Mercury News: "The Legislature should defeat Schwarzenegger's plan and approve a better one," a Mercury News editorial states. Noting that "Democrats are furious" that Senate Health Committee Chair Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) "abandon[ed] her own solid prescription drug legislation in favor of" legislation to create California Rx, the editorial states that Ortiz "should have held out for major improvement in the plan before lending her support." According to the editorial, "Relying on the good will of pharmaceutical companies to lower prescription drug prices for Californians is an exercise in futility." The editorial states, "Ortiz should know better," concluding, "Other lawmakers need to keep up the fight for real reform" (San Jose Mercury News, 2/2).
- Kim Belshe, San Jose Mercury News: California Rx "is the only legislation offering low-cost prescription drugs that meet federal safety standards and adhere to federal law, prices comparable to those on Canadian Web sites and convenient access through local pharmacies," Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Belshe writes in a Mercury News letter to the editor. The senators sponsoring the legislation and its supporters "understand that the governor's approach offers the best chance for immediate relief," Belshe writes. She concludes, "Lowering drug costs is a top priority for Schwarzenegger, and he will hold drug companies accountable for Cal Rx's success" (Belshe, San Jose Mercury News, 2/7).
- Ramon Castellblanch, Sacramento Bee: Schwarzenegger's proposed California Rx program "lacks all the parts needed for a plan to achieve large pharmaceutical discounts," Castellblanch, an assistant professor of health education at San Francisco State University who is aligned with Senior Action Network, writes in a Bee opinion piece. Castellblanch writes that he is working with the OURx "coalition of labor, senior and consumer groups in pushing a package of bills that would get tough with the drug industry and get us substantial savings." He writes that Schwarzenegger's proposal is inadequate because it would not "use the state's Medi-Cal leverage" or "cover vast numbers of Californians in need" and "would be open to [pharmaceutical] industry influence" (Castellblanch, Sacramento Bee, 2/3).