HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

SIGNATURES FILED FOR CHEAPER PRESCRIPTION DRUG BALLOT INITIATIVE

  • Drug Industry To File Counter-Measure; Fourteen Drug Bills Pending in Legislature

Earlier today, Health Access California and the Alliance for a Better California announced that they are submitting signatures to place “The Cheaper Prescription Drugs for California Act” on the next ballot. The timing of the filing would allow it to qualify for a special election, if one is called by the Governor for November 2005 or later. Otherwise, the measure will go on the June 2006 ballot.

THE MEASURE: The Cheaper Prescription Drugs for California Act seeks to ease the hardships caused by the skyrocketing cost of pharmaceuticals. Americans and Californians without drug coverage end up paying more for prescription drugs than anybody in the world, since unlike in other countries, our government does not negotiate for better prices for our citizens. The measure would utilizes the state’s purchasing power through the Medi-Cal program to require big pharmaceutical companies to provide low-cost prescription drugs to the uninsured, low- and middle-income Californians, and those with high health care costs. It is estimated that around 10 million Californians could be eligible for this discount card. For a full text of the measure, go to the Attorney General’s website at:
http://ag.ca.gov/initiatives/pdf/sa2005rf0037.pdf

HISTORY: Many consumer, senior, and patient organizations supported many bills in previous years on the issue of prescription drugs. Six of those bills were vetoed last year by Governor Schwarzenegger, creating the rationale for a ballot measure strategy to advance the issue.

ACTION: As part of this overall push, consumer groups are also supporting fourteen measures on prescription drugs currently pending in both the Assembly and the Senate. For more information on these bills, and to sign up to support this ballot measure, visit the Health Access website at:
http://www.health-access.org/providing/ourx.htm

PHRMA RESPONSE: The measure was filed today after negotiations for a legislative compromise with the prescription drug industry broke down. In response, the prescription drug industry is likely to file signatures to place a competing drug discount ballot measure on the ballot.

OTHER EFFORTS ON SPECIAL ELECTION: The Alliance for a Better California, the coalition of teachers, nurses, firefighters and other interests that have organized opposition to Governor’s special election agenda, funded the signature gathering for both the prescription drug measure, and an “electric reregulation” proposal. Supported by ratepayer advocacy groups, that proposal seeks to providing reliable electric service at reasonable prices for consumers. The Alliance for a Better California will also be leading the opposition to other measures, including the Governor’s “spending cap” proposal to give him unilateral power to make cuts in health, education, and other vital services.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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