California legislation -- AB 1958 -- by Majority Leader Dario Frommer of Los Angeles moved closer to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk yesterday for final approval when it was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. The legislation, which would allow uninsured individuals and small business to band together and benefit from the California Public Employees Retirement System (CALPERS) bulk purchasing pool, will be a highlight of the Rx Express train taking seniors and other patients to Canada next week to buy lower cost prescription drugs.
Prescription drugs are available in Canada at 30-60% discounts because Canadians buy in bulk, a move that pharmaceutical companies have thus far blocked in the U.S.
"Senior citizens -- including those enrolled in the new Medicare drug discount card program -- must still travel to Canada to get the affordable prescriptions they need," said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), the group organizing the Rx Express. "The U.S. should allow patients to do what Canada does: buy prescription drugs in bulk and pocket the savings."
The recently approved Medicare prescription drug legislation banned the Medicare program from negotiation bulk discounts with pharmaceutical companies even though the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs currently saves 50% off the price of drugs through such negotiations.
Both President Bush and Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry have been invited to join the Rx Express to hear from Medicare enrollees and other patients about the need for a national prescription drug bulk-purchasing program. Neither candidate has pledged to enact such a program that would allow patients access to lower cost drugs regardless of age.
For the week prior to the Republican National Convention -- August 23rd to August 26th -- the Rx Express will take seniors, insured and uninsured patients, and small business owners from San Diego, California to Vancouver, Canada. The Rx Express will stop in dozens of towns in California, Oregon and Washington and pick up patients along the way.
The Civil Society Institute -- an organization supporting the Rx Express -- provides an interactive calculator on the organization's website allowing patients to calculate how much they would save if the U.S. adopted policies to bulk purchase prescription drugs. The on-line calculator -- available at http://www.resultsforamerica.org -- has tallied $46 million dollars in savings since it became available to patients in November 2003.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a non-partisan and non-profit consumer advocacy organization. For more information please visit us on the Web at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org or http://www.calhealthconsensus.org
Results for America is a project of the Civil Society Institute, which is based in Newton, Massachusetts. The mission of CSI is to serve as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business, that can help to improve society. Visit Civil Society Institute on the Web at http://www.civilsocietyinstitute.org