Most State Residents Would Not Be Affected by Drug Discount Measures
The Sacramento Bee on Friday examined Propositions 78 and 79, including effects on underinsured residents and the uninsured who, according to the Bee, "are at a big disadvantage when they walk into a pharmacy" (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 10/14).
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 (California Healthline, 10/13). In addition, the Bee reports that state residents who spend more than 5% of their annual income on health care would be eligible to participate in Proposition 79's drug discount program (Sacramento Bee, 10/14). Under Proposition 79, people could sue a pharmaceutical company if they believe it is participating in illegal pricing practices (California Healthline, 10/14).
According to the Bee, most California residents would not be affected by either of the initiatives because both would offer discounted drug prices only to uninsured or underinsured state residents of certain income levels.
Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said, "[The measures] only affect between 11% and 28% of Californians, and everybody is feeling the squeeze" (Sacramento Bee, 10/14).
Consumers Union's endorsement of Proposition 79 -- "a poorly drafted measure whose own proponents tout more in terms of cheap populism" -- is "troubling" because the proposition is "qualitatively different from other crusades the Consumers Union has supported," a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial states. According to the editorial, Consumers Union is "lending its good name to a politically driven initiative" and in doing so is "part of such a nakedly manipulative campaign" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/14).
Additional information on Propositions 78 and 79 is available online.