September 27, 2021
Alliance Fighting for Lower Drug Prices as Debate Heats up in Congress
Alliance members in key congressional districts continued their efforts this week to persuade four moderate House Democrats who voted in Committee against allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.
House members Stephanie Murphy (FL), Scott Peters (CA), Kathleen Rice (NY), and Kurt Schrader (OR) received hundreds of letters from Alliance members, and local and national media outlets published articles drawing attention to their actions. The votes of Reps. Peters, Rice and Schrader also blocked a key mechanism to provide funding that expands Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision care. The Alliance’s recent poll of voters aged 65 and above found that an 87% majority of voters over age 65 favor allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Another major concern was a media report that Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema told White House officials that she did not support allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices. On Thursday Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) told the media that Medicare should be allowed to negotiate prices, but he has reservations about expanding benefits.
In addition to the letter campaign, on Long Island, New Yorkers harmed by high drug prices were joined at a protest on Wednesday by advocates from more than a dozen organizations across the state, including the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans (NYSARA). They demanded that Rep. Rice fight for her constituents instead of mega-profitable drug corporations.
Marjorie Harrison, a NYSARA member, spoke at the rally outside Rep. Rice’s Garden City office in protest of her vote. To great applause Ms. Harrison said Alliance members are asking Rice to “disavow your ‘no’ vote in committee last week and recommit yourself to our senior citizen agenda of lower prescription costs and expanded health coverage for all.”
In Arizona, Alliance state president Saundra Cole issued a press release and said, “time and again Sen. Sinema has assured us that she cares about the challenges facing older Arizonans, but if media reports from Washington are correct, her actions tell a different story. For seniors, the centerpiece of President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan is lowering drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical corporations.”