Rep. Cummings's committee takes on drug prices in hearing tomorrow

healthcare_not_wealthcare.jpgTOMORROW an important congressional hearing: The Patient Perspective: The Devastating Impacts of Skyrocketing Drug Prices on American Families Friday, July 26, 2019 - 9:30 AM 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 At 9 PM a news conference from the activist coalition includes Carrie McBane (see her story below).

Our Dist. 7 (MD) Congressman Elijah Cummings’s oversight committee takes on the cost of essential medicines that is crushing working families in the US.



 

TOMORROW an important congressional hearing: The Patient Perspective: The Devastating Impacts of Skyrocketing Drug Prices on American Families Friday, July 26, 2019 - 9:30 AM 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC cummings.PNG20515 At 9 PM a news conference from the activist coalition includes Carrie McBane (see her story below). The news conference is at U.S. Capitol Grounds, Area #11  across Independence Ave. from the Cannon building, one block from the Capitol South Metro station.

Our Dist. 7 (MD) Congressman Elijah Cummings’s oversight committee takes on the cost of essential medicines that is crushing working families in the US and examines the impact of large pharmaceutical companies’ pricing practices on the financial well-being and health of American patients who depend on prescription drugs

WITNESSES: Ashley Krege (Patient), Houston, Texas; Sa’ra Skipper (Patient), Indianapolis, Indiana; Pam Holt (Patient), Grangier, Indiana; David Mitchell (Patient), Founder- Patients for Affordable Drugs, Potomac, Indiana

BACKGROUND

Drug companies have continued to drastically increase the prices of prescription drugs in recent years, while also enjoying record Hchr_small.jpgprofits. Companies have raised the prices of more than 3,400 drugs in 2019 alone, with an average price increase of five times the rate of inflation. This past January, the Committee launched an investigation into the actions of drug companies in raising prescription drug prices in the United States. Through this investigation, the Committee has examined the strategies used by drug companies to maintain high prices, as well as the effects of these actions on American families. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly a quarter of people taking prescription drugs report that it is difficult for them to afford their medications, with a disproportionate impact falling on those with low incomes. [from Committee statement]

Carrie McBane of Sylva, NC is one of them. An activist with Down Home North Carolina, she recounts how she struggled, as an uninsured person, to even find out what caused her chronic fatigue and weakness. Finally, the nonprofit Blue Ridge Health Clinic diagnosed type 2 diabetes. “I promptly started to cry in front of the staff because finally someone, in our broken healthcare system, was listening to me, cared about my well-being, and actually gave me their time and attention; they didn’t try to explain their way out of why they couldn’t help me, or why they thought I didn’t know my body better than they did.

“When you’re sick,” McBane continued, “and you don’t want to be sick, you’re often in denial. One thing that cannot be denied any longer is that the healthcare system in this country is broken.  No one’s life should hang in the balance because they can’t afford preventative care, a doctor’s visit, the right medication, or because their file gets lost.

“I’m extraordinarily thankful and grateful to the doctors, nurses, and office staff at the Blue Ridge Health Clinic for their kindness, compassion, and generosity. I am also glad that programs exist to help me get the medications I need to survive. This shows there are still compassionate providers who try to put patients before profits.

“But I’m also well aware that in our healthcare system, profits almost always win. I’m one of the lucky ones,” McBane continued. “Millions more in this country aren’t so lucky. No one should have to rely on luck – or charity – to access life-saving care.

“Health care is a human right, and should be available to every one of us.”

As victims of a broken health care system in the US, we look with some envy at the excellent universal health care provided in other advanced countries such as Germany and Japan. As Mike Magee relates, there’s a real irony there.

 “As part of our efforts to rebuild and restore Germany and Japan after the end of the war, under the Marshall Plan, our leaders determined that a truly healthy democratic society requires a healthy population. Few Americans, however, are aware that our taxpayer dollars were used to fund the creation of universal national health systems in both countries.

“At the same time, however, we failed to set up the same system at home: the American Medical Association and allied corporations orchestrated defeat of the legislation by declaring President Harry Truman’s effort would lead to ‘socialized medicine.’ ”

Medicare for All, supported in various forms by Progressive Maryland and nationally by People’s Action and other progressive groups, would comprehensively tackle the high cost of drugs from Big Pharma and of health care from big insurance companies that respond to Wall Street investors before their patients’ needs. And the struggling rural health care system that was failing Carrie McBane can be revived for the benefit of working families under Medicare for All, as Andy Spears of Tennessee Citizen Action shows here.

Tomorrow, Congress will launch its inquiry into the high cost of prescription drugs as a part of the solution.