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Assembly Passes Bill To Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Originally Posted: June 30, 2011

Sag Harbor - "Every day, thousands of New Yorkers depend on prescription drugs to maintain their health. But the crush of difficult economic times,
along with increasingly higher prescription drug prices, limits access to vital medication, especially for seniors.

At the same time, the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs places a heavy burden on health insurance plans and publicly funded medical assistance programs, leaving them struggling to pick up the slack. In order to help alleviate the burden of soaring prescription prices on our vulnerable residents and health care programs, the Assembly passed legislation I supported that would establish the Prescription Drug Assistance Program to harness consumer purchasing power by negotiating rebates with suppliers (A.805). Those rebates would then be applied toward reducing prescription drug costs for participants, helping to make their medication more attainable.

Through the use of bulk purchasing and rebates, this program would provide lower drug prices for participants. This measure would allow the program to remain open to individuals without prescription coverage or those facing gaps in coverage - regardless of their age - as long as they can meet certain income requirements. By allowing the state to negotiate on the buyer's behalf, we can help bring prescription drug costs down substantially, making them more affordable. It is completely unacceptable to leave thousands of New Yorkers in a situation where they would have to decide between the food on their table or the medication keeping them healthy.

In the midst of this economic downturn, health care programs have had a difficult time keeping up with the continuously rising cost of medication. But the implementation of this program would consolidate consumer purchasing power and relieve the financial strain from overburdened health insurance plans and medical-assistance programs. This measure would also create the Prescription Drug Discount Card; outline the distribution of the rebate funds to retailers or individual participants; and promote the program through the state Department of Health education and outreach.

It is essential that we make sure our most vulnerable residents, especially the elderly, are not left to fend for themselves with outrageously priced prescription drugs. Lower prescription drug prices mean better and more manageable care for New Yorkers, as well as much-needed savings for both Medicaid and state health plans."

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