Santa Monica, CA — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has collected $216,400 from drug companies since April, including $49,600 on Monday, bringing his total take from the industry since taking office to over $1 million. The new burst of contributions comes as several bills opposed by the industry make their way toward the governor’s desk, according to the nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
“While Schwarzenegger is feeding his drug habit, many Californians must choose between buying overpriced medications or skipping meals,” said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
Nearly 1-in-4 seniors have been forced to skip medication doses or have not filled a prescription due to high costs, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund. Chronically ill people of all ages are forced to make similar hard choices, such as between medication and rent.
Among five contributions made on Monday was a $22,300 payment from Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Click here to view a chart detailing all drug company contributions.
A pair of companion bills opposed by the drug industry, AB 2911 (Nunez) and SB 1702 (Perata), would establish a drug discount program for lower income Californians. They would require state regulators to negotiate voluntary discounts from drug manufacturers for the first three years of the program. After three years, if regulators deem that the discounts provided by a particular company are insufficient or the list of drugs available at discount too limited, regulators would restrict that company’s ability to sell to the lucrative state Medi-Cal program. Medi-Cal spends approximately $5 billion each year to provide prescription drugs to the state’s non-elderly low-income populations.
The Nunez/Perata proposals are flawed because they limit the program to only low-income Californians, said FTCR. The state’s buying power would benefit prescription drug buyers of all incomes, and eliminating the bureaucracy of an income test would greatly reduce operating costs of the program. However, the bills start in the right direction and are likely to reach the governor’s desk.
At a campaign stop yesterday, Schwarzenegger said that if re-elected a key challenge would be “to create health care for every citizen.”
“If the governor keeps taking campaign checks from drug companies intent on price-gouging, then universal health care will be more than a challenge, it will be impossible,” said Jerry Flanagan. “If Schwarzenegger is really a man of the people he should just say no to the drug company cash infusion and sign legislation to provide affordable medications.”
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California’s leading nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information, visit us on the web at http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org