USA Today Debates States’ Role in Reducing Prescription Drug Prices
States have the "clout to do something about the burden" of pharmaceutical costs for seniors and should move "aggressively" to pass legislation to address the issue in the absence of a Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to a USA Today editorial. Although House Republicans and Senate Democrats have proposed rival legislation to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, according to USA Today, the "chances of enactment are slim." The editorial points out that 32 states have developed programs to help seniors purchase prescription drugs -- despite a number of lawsuits filed by the pharmaceutical industry to block the programs. USA Today concludes, "The laboratories of democracy, fighting the legal obstacles thrown up by a politically powerful industry, are again showing that gridlock in Washington need not result in permanent victory for special interests" (USA Today, 5/8).
However, according to Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association President Alan Holmer, "for states to fashion 50 different drug coverage plans for seniors would be a mistake" and would not address the "overwhelming national need" to pass a Medicare prescription drug benefit. Holmer calls on Congress to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare this year to ensure that seniors receive the "medicines they need to stay active and healthy." According to Holmer, prescription drugs offer the "most cost-effective, least-invasive treatment for many diseases and help keep seniors out of hospitals and nursing homes." He concludes, "Both political parties have proposed plans to provide prescription drug coverage for seniors, and we are hopeful that legislation will be enacted in this session of Congress. The need is urgent, and the time is now" (Holmer, USA Today, 5/8).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.