Supporters Submit Nearly 550K Signatures for Rx Price Ballot Initiative
On Monday, backers of an initiative that aims to reduce the cost of prescription drugs in California said they submitted nearly 550,000 signatures to place the proposal on the November 2016 ballot, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 11/2).
Details of Initiative
The California Drug Price Relief Act, which is supported by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles, would impose price controls on prescription drug purchases funded -- directly and indirectly -- by the state.
Specifically, the proposal would mandate that the state pay the same as or less than the rates paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs for prescription drug purchases. California currently pays billions of dollars for prescription drugs -- both directly, such as for prison health care, and indirectly, such as for Medi-Cal and CalPERS managed care plans. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (California Healthline, 10/29).
According to the state's Legislative Analyst's Office and the Department of Finance, the effects of the proposal are not entirely clear. However, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said it could benefit about five million Californians, including:
- 2.7 million non-HMO Medi-Cal beneficiaries;
- 2.2 million CalPERS and California State Teachers' Retirement System members;
- 112,000 inmates; and
- 31,000 residents who receive AIDS drugs from government-assistance programs (San Jose Mercury News, 11/2).
Supporters of the measure said they submitted 542,879 signatures -- far more than the 365,880 required by the state to qualify ballot proposals.
According to Weinstein, the signatures still must be verified by the California Secretary of State (San Jose Mercury News, 11/2).
Meanwhile, opponents of the measure maintain that it could have unintended consequences (Bradford, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 11/2). Drugmakers so far have donated more than $10 million to defeat the initiative, and the ballot measure is likely to continue generating pushback from the pharmaceutical industry (California Healthline, 10/29).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.