PRESS RELEASE: HEALTH CARE FOR ALL AND THE MASSACHUSETTS DRUG AFFORDABILITY COALITION HELD PRESS CONFERENCE AND LEGISLATIVE BRIEFING ON THE RESULTS OF A MASSACHUSETTS POLL ON THE HIGH COSTS OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

Thursday, July 25, 2019

 

Conclusions Show Strong Support for Legislation that Provides Transparency and Accountability to Lower Prescription Drug Costs

 

BOSTON, MA— Today, Health Care For All and the Massachusetts Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition participated in a legislative briefing that revealed the results of a statewide survey regarding the rising cost of prescription drugs and potential solutions to address this problem.

The poll, conducted by the national non-partisan research firm PerryUndem, confirms that Massachusetts voters are worried about rising drug prices. The vast majority of voters surveyed (88%) want policy makers to take action and make prescription drugs more affordable.

“We believe that the compromise language in the state budget that was approved at the beginning of the week was a major step forward in reining in the high cost of prescription drugs in the MassHealth program,” said Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All. “However, according to the Center for Health Information and Analysis, 3 out 5 Massachusetts residents rely on private health insurance for their health care needs. It is critical that we address the rising cost of prescription drugs for these consumers as well.”

The survey, which was sponsored by Health Care For All, shows that 82 percent of voters support a bill that includes both transparency and payment limits to lower prescription drug costs (versus 12% who support a bill with transparency alone). In fact, the data presented at the briefing found that nearly 9 in 10 voters (88%) support proposed legislation—H.1133/S.706, An Act to ensure prescription drug cost transparency and affordability, sponsored by Senator Jason Lewis and State Representative Christine Barber—that would take both steps.

“The results of this poll confirm what I have heard from constituents that the only way to reduce prescription drug costs is to hold all accountable to be part of the solution,” said State Representative Christine Barber. “The bill I filed with Senator Lewis does just that, by bringing pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and PBMs to the table by increasing accountability and transparency of their drug costs. I look forward to continue working with consumers, my colleagues, and the industry to make real progress on lowering costs for families.”

“Massachusetts prescription drug spending increased at twice the rate of overall health care spending last year,” said State Senator Jason Lewis. “This legislation addresses rising prescription drug costs by providing transparency around the costs to produce medications, authorizing the Health Policy Commission to set upper payment limits for excessively high-priced drugs; restraining the abuses of pharmacy benefit managers, requiring pharmacists to inform consumers if paying cash for a prescription would be cheaper than using insurance; and permanently authorizing an evidence-based prescriber education program.”

The poll suggests that strong support for the bill is due to wide-spread concerns about the cost of prescription drugs, with 82 percent saying they are concerned about their ability to afford prescription drugs if prices were to rise. Almost two-thirds of voters (62%) say they are already worried about current cots. More than one-third (36%) reported not taking medications as prescribed by their doctors because of high costs. This is putting the health and safety of Massachus5501etts residents at risk.

“As a nurse, I understand the value of prescription drugs in keeping me healthy. I currently take six medications per day. One medication needs to be taken twice per month. That one medication, after insurance, costs $3,450 per year out of pocket.  Right now, I am able to afford it because I’m married and have savings.  But if I wasn’t married, my annual income would be $22,000 per year and there is no way I could afford my medications. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good your insurance coverage is if you cannot afford to pay for the drugs you need,” said Jane Ahern-DeFillippi, AARP member and volunteer and a Melrose resident.

“While turning 26 is normally an exciting time in a young adult’s life, for people with insulin dependent diabetes, it is a time of terror. Imagine being 26 and suddenly having to pay an additional $800 a month because your life depended on it and wondering if you can ration enough of your life saving medicine until your next paycheck. This is a decision no one should ever have to make,” said Chris Noble, a Cambridge resident.

The poll also suggests that this legislation matters to voters. Six in 10 (59%) say they are more likely to support their state legislator if they supported the bill.

 

The MA Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition currently includes the following organizations:

  • 1199SEIU
  • Association for Behavioral HealthCare
  • Atrius Health
  • Boston Center for Independent Living
  • Disability Policy Consortium
  • Health Care For All
  • Health Law Advocates
  • Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action
  • MA Association for Mental Health
  • MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
  • Mass. Medical Society
  • Mass. Senior Action Council
  • MASSPIRG
  • Right Care Alliance

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