Proposition 78 Supporters Outspend Proposition 79 Supporters; Opinion Pieces Detail Options
The campaign in favor of Proposition 78 and against Proposition 79 has broken spending records for California initiative campaigns and has "poured $76.5 million into television ads, mail and other activities" intended to persuade voters for the Nov. 8 special election, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In comparison, the campaign in favor of Proposition 79 and against Proposition 78 has spent $503,375 on voting efforts and campaign activities, according to the Times (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 10/28).
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, 10/24).
Larry Noble, director of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., said the campaign for Proposition 78 and against Proposition 79 is based on "a scorched-earth policy," adding, "Candidates raise a lot of money to scare off opponents. This is the same type of policy."
The Times reports that a representative of the campaign for Proposition 78 declined to comment (Los Angeles Times, 10/28).
"Proposition 78 is a decoy created by the drug companies to draw votes from Proposition 79" and is a "recipe for a short-lived program of minimal discounts," Marcia Angell, a Harvard Medical School lecturer and former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, writes in a Times opinion piece. She writes, "The issue comes down to this: Do you want to lower drug costs for those least able to afford them? Or would you rather see drug companies continue to charge whatever the traffic will bear and rake in profits far in excess of nearly every other industry?" Angell recommends that state residents vote "yes" on Proposition 79 and "no" on Proposition 78 (Angell, Los Angeles Times, 10/28).
In addition, the Fresno Bee on Thursday published opinion pieces addressing Propositions 78 and 79. Summaries appear below:
- Emily Garin Clayton: "Proposition 79 offers a real solution for reining in drug prices," Garin Clayton, a CalPIRG health care advocate, writes, adding that "Proposition 78 is designed to ward off the real price reductions offered with Proposition 79." According to Garin Clayton, neither measure "will solve all the problems that Californians face in trying to get safe, affordable prescription drugs." She writes, "Proposition 79, however, gives consumers a fighting chance the next time they walk into the pharmacy" (Garin Clayton, Fresno Bee, 10/27).
- Linda Halderman: Proposition 78 could "improve the health of millions of Californians," Halderman, a surgeon practicing in Selma, writes, adding that she is "gravely concerned" that Proposition 79 would compromise care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. She writes, "Proposition 78 is a workable, well-crafted plan for delivering deep discounts on prescription drugs to millions of Californians," and concludes that Proposition 79 "is an unworkable, fatally flawed program that will never see the light of day. My patients deserve better" (Halderman, Fresno Bee, 10/27).