Hawaiʻi leaders urge lower drug prescription prices in wake of AARP petition
After an AARP petition seeking lower prescription drug prices, Hawai’i’s US Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono voiced support for a measure that would reduce the cost of prescription drugs, according to a news release.
The AARP petition, which urges Congress to stop unfair drug prices, generated more than 19,000 signatures from Hawai’i residents. It was given to Schatz and Hirono ahead of the Senate’s vote on a major drug reform bill.
Gary Simon, AARP volunteer state president, said that kupuna are tired of paying three times what people in other countries pay for the same drugs.
“Big Pharma is making billions while seniors and taxpayers are getting ripped off,” he said in the release.
Simon added that the Senate now has a historic opportunity to lower drug prices.
AARP, the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to helping citizens 50 and older, supports legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, cap out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and impose penalties on drug companies that hike prices faster than the rate of inflation.
The bill passed the US House in November and is now in the Senate.
Schatz said that over the last decade, the cost of prescription drugs has increased by more than a third.
“No one should have to choose between paying for the food that they need, the rent that they have to pay, or the medicine that they need to stay healthy,” he said in the release. “Let’s keep working together to bring down the cost of prescription drugs and get some relief to adults across the state of Hawai’i.”
Hirono said that the cost of prescription drugs, such as insulin, has skyrocketed over recent years.
As a result, people in Hawai’i and across the nation are struggling to afford the medications they need. Hawai’i residents are especially hard hit because the state has higher rates of diabetes and other diseases, she added.
“Very few people are able to afford the high costs drug companies are charging. The same companies are raking in record profits,” Hirono said in the release.
“Healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” she said. “That’s why I am working to make sure everyone has access to the drugs they need to stay healthy.”
Lowering prescription drug prices has widespread support among voters, regardless of party affiliation, according to AARP, which has been advocating for lower prescription prices.
An AARP survey of voters found that strong majorities of voters want Congress to act on the issue, with 70% saying it is very important. The survey also found that 87% of voters support allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.
With nearly 32 million members, including about 145,000 in Hawaiʻi, AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age.