Rx DRUG COSTS: Roundtable Discusses Rising Costs, Coverage
The Center for Health and Public Policy Studies at the University of California-Berkeley sponsored a roundtable discussion in the state Capitol yesterday to address concerns about the rising cost of prescription drugs, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. The group focused on drug coverage through HMOs, Medicare and Medi-Cal. Janet Lundy of the Kaiser Family Foundation said, "A significant portion of the population doesn't have coverage for prescription drugs. A lack of coverage can mean that prescriptions doctors prescribe don't get filled." A recently released KFF study found that 31% of Medicare beneficiaries and 23% of people under age 65 lack drug benefits, while prescription drug use climbed 37% from 1992 to 1998. Helen Schauffler of the Center for Health and Public Policy Studies said, "The only viable solution, in the tradition of Social Security and Medicare, is to make [drug coverage] available. It's long overdue." State Sen. Byron Sher (D-Stanford) sponsored SB 1880, the only prescription drug coverage bill in this year's Legislature to make it to Gov. Gray Davis' (D) desk. Under the measure, the state would be required to design a bulk drug purchasing initiative for programs that cover state employees, Medicaid and Medi-Cal beneficiaries, the uninsured and the underinsured. Davis has until the end of September to sign the bill (Coleman, 9/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.