Group Says It Has Enough Signatures To Qualify Prescription Drug Measure for Next Statewide Ballot
The Alliance for a Better California on Thursday announced that it has "more than enough" signatures to qualify its proposal to address prescription drug costs for the next statewide ballot, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Under the proposal, pharmaceutical manufacturers would be required to provide discounts on drugs for low-income residents or face exclusion from Medi-Cal (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 4/15). Supporters of the proposal say it would help the state use its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices under the plan (Folmar, San Jose Mercury News, 4/15).
Alliance -- which includes unions, health care advocates and education groups -- has raised $3.4 million for a campaign in favor of the prescription drug measure and three other ballot initiatives it is trying to qualify for ballot (San Jose Mercury News, 4/15).
Alliance spokesperson Robin Swanson declined to specify how many signatures the group had collected or whether it would submit them to qualify the measure for the next statewide ballot. Swanson said that submitting the signatures could hamper work on a compromise on legislation addressing prescription drug costs.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has raised $10.6 million for its own prescription drug measure and another initiative.
Dave Puglia, a spokesperson for the drug companies, said PhRMA will have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot "in plenty of time." However, Puglia said, "Hopefully, all interested parties can turn to the Legislature to deliver Californians a meaningful drug discount program" (Sacramento Bee, 4/15). "We'll have major resources available if this goes to a full campaign," Puglia said, adding, "You ain't seen nothing yet."
PhRMA's measure would create a voluntary drug discount program for pharmaceutical companies. A similar measure currently is being negotiated in the Legislature (San Jose Mercury News, 4/15).
In related news, sponsors of a measure that would require physicians to notify a parent or guardian 48 hours before they perform an abortion on an unmarried minor on Wednesday submitted more than 950,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the next statewide ballot, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/15).
Under the measure, the Department of Health Services would have to maintain detailed records of abortions performed on minors, although the records would exclude names. The measure also would impose civil penalties on individuals who coerce a minor to have an abortion.
The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that the measure would reduce the number of abortions performed in the state by 25% (California Healthline, 4/12).
Albin Rhomberg, spokesperson for supporters of the measure, said, "Barring something most unusual," the number of signatures collected "should be more than adequate. The next step is we want to educate and inform the voters on why this is a good thing to do so they will be inclined to vote for it."
Justine Saver -- vice president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, which is opposing the measure -- said, "Nothing has changed from our vantage point. We want to encourage good family communication and we don't see this initiative as something that can force families to communicate about sensitive issues such as this."
Margita Thompson, press secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), said the governor "supports the concept but has not endorsed the proposal" (La Mar, Contra Costa Times, 4/13).
The "ever-divisive abortion issue threatens to pull the spotlight" from Schwarzenegger's special election agenda because it could bring "hundreds of thousands of single-issue voters ... who might otherwise stay home for a special election," according to the Chronicle.
Barbara O'Connor, a political communications professor at California State University-Sacramento, said, "This draws a whole different cast of characters. It is a more politically explosive group and one that's not divided along strict partisan lines" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/15).