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Sat Nov 3, 2018, 09:14 AM

Ben Jealous could save you a bundle on health care

Nov 1, 2018

U.S. residents pay outrageously high prices for their prescription drugs. According to the online magazine The Hill, “Americans pay prices for prescription drugs that are two to six times the rest of the world, despite having personal incomes that are on par with many developed countries.”

In fact, even though we constitute only 5 percent of the world’s population, international pharmaceutical companies realize about 60 percent of their total profits from within the United States, as reported in The Atlantic.

One reason for this alarming situation is that the federal government, notwithstanding the agencies that represent our men and women in the armed forces and veterans, does not negotiate the price of prescription drugs with manufacturers. In fact, when the government finally established the Medicare prescription drug program in 2004, the Republican-controlled Congress wrote “non-negotiable” pricing into that law. Congressman Billy Tauzin of Louisiana, who helped write this groundbreaking piece of legislation, resigned his seat in the House of Representatives to take a reported seven-figure salary lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry while negotiations were still underway. The ban on negotiating is also a shortcoming of the Affordable Care Act.

Senior citizens living on fixed incomes are among those acutely conscious of the rising costs of prescription drugs. As reported in the October issue of the AARP Bulletin, a survey of Maryland members showed that 77 percent of Maryland seniors listed “curbing prescription costs” as one of their top three issues. According to the AARP, “name-brand and specialty drug prices are rising at a faster pace than other health care spending, and almost 10 times greater than the rate of inflation.”


https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-1102-drug-prices-20181101-story.html

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