Proponents Prepare Campaigns for Prescription Drug Measures on Special Election Ballot
Although supporters of Proposition 79 have raised at least $9 million and supporters of Proposition 78 have raised more than $53 million for their respective campaign efforts, some experts say the campaign that "does the better job crafting its message" about its prescription drug discount program will win the Nov. 8 special election, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports (Vitucci, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/26).
Proposition 78 -- sponsored by the prescription drug industry -- would provide voluntary discounts on prescription drugs to state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level.
Proposition 79 -- sponsored by Health Access California, a health care advocacy group, and a coalition of labor groups -- would exclude drug companies from the Medi-Cal formulary in some circumstances if they do not offer discounts on drugs to state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level (California Healthline, 7/26).
Supporters of Proposition 78 say the measure would lower drug costs for five million state residents. They also say Proposition 79 is too expensive for drug companies, adding that the state would benefit from a more market-based approach.
However, supporters of Proposition 79 say the measure would help more state residents because the income limits are not as strict and it would provide "a hammer over drug makers" to provide discounts, the Press-Enterprise reports.
Some health care advocacy groups say prescription drug discount programs should be an issue decided by the Legislature, rather than voters.
Margaret Laws, director of the California HealthCare Foundation's Public Financing and Policy Program, said polls indicate state residents do not have adequate information on the ballot measures. Laws said, "They're actually addressing pretty serious issues. Taking these issues out of the Legislature has pretty serious impacts for health policy and how policy decisions are made."
In addition, the outcome of the election might have implications for efforts to create drug discount programs in other states.
Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said, "It's going to be a battle royal. ... The pharmacy companies are putting up so much of their resources to nip it in the bud. If it doesn't pass in California, it's unlikely to pass anywhere" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/26).