Eligibility for Drug Discount Programs in San Luis Obispo County Examined
More than one in 10 San Luis Obispo County residents "could be affected by whichever drug discount program California voters choose" on the Nov. 8 special election ballot, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports (Welton, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 10/31).
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, a measure supported by Health Access California and a coalition of labor groups, would require drug makers to participate in a prescription drug discount program or face exclusion from the Medi-Cal formulary in some cases. To qualify, state residents' annual incomes could not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level. State residents who spend more than 5% of their annual income on health care also would be eligible to participate in Proposition 79's drug discount program. In addition, people could sue a pharmaceutical company if they believe it is participating in illegal pricing practices (California Healthline, 10/28).
Data from the University of California-Los Angeles' California Health Interview Survey indicate that about 32,000 San Luis Obispo county residents would be eligible for Proposition 78's discount program. According to the Tribune, "[t]housands more" would be eligible for Proposition 79's discount program (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 10/31).
In related news, CongressDaily on Monday examined the campaigns for and against Propositions 78 and 79 (Klein, CongressDaily, 10/31).
Voters should "simply vote 'no' on both ballot measures," a San Jose Mercury News editorial states. A special election "is not the way for California to resolve complex health care issues," the editorial states, adding that "the pharmaceutical industry should not be able to buy the right to govern itself" and "consumer groups should not be allowed to go overboard" (San Jose Mercury News, 10/30).
Proposition 78 was "put on the ballot by the pharmaceutical industry specifically to distract voters from 79," Ethan Rarick, acting director of the Center on Politics at the University of California-Berkeley, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, adding, "If politics is a rhetorical form of combat, few weapons are more effective than the fog of war" (Rarick, Los Angeles Times, 10/31).
"California Connected" -- a weekly, hourlong newsmagazine produced by PBS stations in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco that covers state events and issues -- on Friday aired a segment in which three state voters work together as a "Proposition Special Investigation" unit to examine the "seemingly indistinguishable" competing drug measures and report on what state residents should know to be able to understand the differences between the two propositions (Landsman, "California Connected," KVIE, 10/28).
The complete segment is available online in Quicktime media format. The program's "Guide to the Ballot Guides" for Proposition 78 and Proposition 79 is available online.
In addition, KCET's "Life & Times" on Monday is scheduled to provide an update on the drug measures (Louie, "Life & Times," KCET, 10/31). The complete transcript and audio of the segment will be available online after the broadcast.
Additional information on Propositions 78 and 79 is available online.