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Proposition 61, the California Drug Price Relief Act is a ballot initiative that will require that the state of California will pay no more for pharmaceuticals than is paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). With the clout of massive purchases, the state could negotiate for less than the Dept. of Veterans Affairs pays.

Vote Yes on Prop 61, the California Drug Price Relief Act—Maureen Cruise

Vote Yes on Prop 61, the California Drug Price Relief Act—Maureen Cruise

The YES on prop 61 Campaign is endorsed by social justice advocates including Nurses, AIDS patients, seniors, the State of California agencies, AARP, the Urban league, Progressive Democrats of America, and many grassroots non profit coalitions like Campaign for Healthy California.

We are challenging a drug industry run amok with unbridled power and unparalleled greed, so far spending $110 million to defeat Proposition 61.

We are challenging a drug industry run amok with unbridled power and unparalleled greed, so far spending $110 million to defeat Proposition 61.

Why the VA?

The Veterans Administration pays 40% less than medicare Part D, at least 24% less than any other government agency and 35% less than the general public. This is not out of kindness or largesse by the drug companies. It is by law under the Veterans Act of 1992, passed because veterans were being gouged and could not afford medicines. Contrary to the dishonest TV ads, what the VA pays is not open to exorbitant price increases because it is tied to the consumer price index by law. Prices are negotiated nationally and are capped by the CPI rate of inflation. Prop 61 cannot affect that negotiation.

prop 61

What Does Prop 61 Do?

Make medicines more affordable for the 6 million people enrolled in a program where the state pays the health care costs: prisons, Non HMO Medical enrollees, UC Hospital systems, students in university health programs., CalPers. Reducing the costs to the state will save CA tax payers about $5.7 billion over 10 years ..averaging about 570 million a year.

Who Benefits?

In addition to the 6 million people in CA state programs, Veterans will benefit. Of the 22 million veterans in the US only 6 million access VA health care benefits. 16 million veterans pay what everyone else pays in this rigged market. Everyone in the state benefits. When the tax burden diminishes, funds are available for critical health care needs. Prop 61 reduces health care costs across the spectrum because when people can get the meds they need, they are less sick. Producing a healthier population means less suffering, less stress, less serious illness….fewer preventable deaths. In the US Over 100,000 people die due to preventable causes every year. The US is ranked #1 among industrialized nations for populations suffering from chronic illness and preventable death.

What Will Prop 61 NOT DO?

Prop 61 will not diminish Veterans' benefits. Of 22 million US vets only 6 million get VA Health Care. DVA prices are capped by the CPI rate of inflation. Prop 61 will not be the cause of price increases. Price increases are driven by greed and are currently unrestrained. Generics rose thousands of percent in last few years. Prop 61 will not remove drugs from market. This is a current practice employed by the drug companies, to game the system for profit. Prop 61 will not minimize Research & Development (R&D) capacity. The public spends $30 billion annually to fund 80% of R&D. When we add in tax breaks given by congress, 90% of the R&D funding is public. PHARMA spends 19 times more on advertising, has the highest profits, and offers the most generous CEO compensation of any industry in the country. Not because they develop or innovate new drugs but because they charge more, continually increasing prices.

WHY are we in this situation?

Drug companies are overcharging everyone by billions of dollars every year. They profit on the vulnerability and pain of sick and suffering people who need medicines to live by price gouging Your money or your life! One especially egregious and horrifying example of this, among many, is the new Hepatitis C Treatment. Th lifelong debilitating HEP C disease could be eradicated from the planet with the Solvadi - Harvoni drugs which have a 99% cure rate for a painful, chronic, communicable disease. Solvadi is a drug that sells for $100 a pill in India, $1000 a pill in the US. The costs to the patent owning drug company Gilead Sciences is about $1 per pill. The regimen for cure costs Indians $1,000 and $84,000 in the US. 99% of patients cannot afford this. This drug was actually developed with public money, sold to companies to bring it through the regulatory process and then to Gilead to market. The entire cost of Gilead's purchase was covered in the first year….now it is all profit. This is the drug industry template, ensuring the Pharmaceuticals trade remains the most lucrative industry in the world. Americans pay more than any other nation for medicines. Pharmaceutical companies profit more than any other industry in the country.

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Is this immoral? Is this a good economic result of tax payer money funding research & development of a cure only to then pay again exorbitant prices for the cure? It is no wonder that #1 rising costs in our economy are health care. And the exponentially fastest within that sector is Pharmaceuticals.

California Prop 61

43 million Americans are in the clutches of debt collectors because they cannot pay their medical bills. The industry charges whatever they choose in an unregulated market. They gouge because they can. No one has stopped them. Bernie Sanders says the pharmaceutical industry owns congress. Change won’t come from legislators until we the people force the situation and demand justice. Proposition 61 is that demand.

This very sick market place structure has resulted in the health care crisis we are experiencing. 20% of patients cannot afford prescriptions. People are cutting drugs, altering schedules, reducing dosages, going with out. As one diabetic patient said "I cannot afford to live." Insurance companies, clinics, hospitals and state programs withhold the most current, more expensive but more effective, alternatives due to skyrocketing costs. This is rationing. Delaying appropriate care until a condition worsens because people cannot afford medicines is inappropriate care, resulting in blindness, limb loss, organ failure, cardiac arrest, and a variety of permanent disabilities and death. This is known as the "delay - deny - let them die" strategy.

The US is ranked a shameful and unnecessary #1 in preventable deaths. Our Pharmaceutical industry is a death panel. Killing people by denying medications and appropriate care is an atrocity. It is a crime and should be treated as such….murder by other means. Pharma is another industry failing the people but an industry too well connected to the political machines of both parties to be jailed for their crimes.

There is Hope on the horizon! People do acknowledge the price distortion. A Kaiser poll indicates that 73% of the respondents say drug prices are unreasonable. 76% of those recognize this as a result of Pharma profiteering. This view has bipartisan support across all demographics: age, ethnicity, location, income.

States regulation is on the rise 10 other states are proposing transparency for drug prices in private market. The Legislative Analysts Office has reported there may be a legal argument for across the board implementation of these price controls. Mayo Clinic oncologists and Physician for a National Health Program publicly criticized high drug prices. There is national movement. The US Senate Committee On Aging has convened an official investigation into drug pricing.

The US Congress has formed a task force to investigate drug prices. Three candidates for president are calling for price controls on drug companies, labeling current pricing practices as "gouging". Sadly many more families are suffering catastrophic health care costs burdens and chronic illnesses like asthma and need relief. There will be a breaking point...and for many it is here and now.

The Proposition 61 challenge is a mere skirmish in the coming battles with the corporate world in the war over control of our own bodies. This is the beginning of shedding a deeply destructive and rigged market place that clearly is a threat to the health, safety, and well being of our entire country. The question remains…do we want a system based on the goal of wellness or shareholder profit? are medicines available only to the highest bidder, the wealthiest "consumers"? are we in the game? or on the sidelines? We must pick up the ball and run.

Arundhati Roy wrote …”We are more than they. There is a better world coming…I can almost hear her breathing.”
So breathe deeply and vote YES on prop 61 as if your life depends on it. Because it does.

prop 61

Maureen Cruise