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Drug costs push some to ration medicine as U.S. unveils plan to import

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Let's go to Greg Marshall Don. WHO's the executive director Revis A._A._R._p.? Vermont and get this conversation started right off <hes> he is <hes> talking to us today mainly about <hes> legislation in Washington Washington in the Congress which would be <hes> help to <hes> straighten out the problems that a lot of folks see with prescription drugs in the cost of prescription drugs and Greg. I I walked me to the program. Thanks so much for joining me. Thanks for having me Dave and tell me a little bit about <hes> this legislation and <hes> where it is in the process and what the prospects are was sure. I mean first of all I just want to remind your viewers may be something that they don't need to be reminded. They've gone to the pharmacy anytime in the last five ten or fifteen years but we of course pay the highest drug prices of any <hes> industrialized country in the world brand brand name drugs continue to skyrocket and price and really exceed the general rate of inflation year in and year out and sort of a statistic for Vermont others to to remember at the average annual cost of prescription drug treatments increased almost sixty percent between two thousand twelve and two thousand seventeen while the annual income Vermont is on the increase about eleven and a half percent so that just sort of sets the stage for what people already know if they go by prescription drugs that they're incredibly expensive <hes> for A._A._R._p.. Team members and for retirees were living on a fixed income. They are forced to make some really painful choices in you know Kennedy heat the house in the wintertime it. Can You buy the insulin that you need. If you're a diabetic making choices between food and medicine rent and medicine <hes> these are things. We don't think anybody in this country ought to have to do but certainly we don't feel that way we <hes> we feel very strongly about <hes> seniors in our own state right now there does seem to be frankly and perhaps surprisingly some some movement on prescription drug reform in Congress <hes> this is an issue that president trump talked about in the campaign <hes> and has continued to talk about in a pretty forceful way just last year Florida <hes> one of the biggest states in the nation one of the states that have the largest number of retirees Peste reimportation bill that the president accident has instructed H._H._S. to figure out how to execute <hes> and so there's been some stuff going on in the state level but very recently the Senate finance committee on a bipartisan and level <hes> which we don't see very often either passed a prescription drug package <hes> out of the Senate which includes looking at ways to cap prescription option drug prices looks at ways to get <hes> generics to the market faster <hes> and also <hes> with some amendments potentially allowing <hes> secretary terrier negotiation four people on Medicare so that you can so bulk purchasing Ken can be done the house <hes> with leadership frankly of <hes> our congressman Congressman Peter well-chosen influential member of the committee that is <hes> undertaking <hes> the work in house should have a package announced in early September <hes> and <hes> <hes> then they can rectify those two things. We think that there's a window sort of between post Labor Day you know in Thanksgiving to get this done what we are concerned about. Is it goes much longer than that. We are firmly entrenched in in a in a political year a presidential political year and not much will happen so there's a short window <hes> mm-hmm but we think there might be for the first time in decades significant progress on this issue now I I heard that criticism about this legislation which which is <hes> it is said that it it still does not allow negotiations directly between the government and pharmaceutical companies about the prices of drugs but it sounds like there there. Maybe a slight opening. Tell me about that well. <hes> <hes> Senator Debbie Stephen Ow of <hes> of Michigan offered an amendment and I think we'll run through the appropriations process process which is a way to do that <hes> which would allow <hes> the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate much like <hes> <hes> much like we do for our veterans <hes> and N._B._A.. Able to bulk purchase drugs for the tens of millions of people are on Medicare. I mean this is a pretty simple thing to do and there's a reason why people people drive to colchester go to COSCO because if you buy you know a package of fifteen rolls of toilet paper it's going to be a lot cheaper than buying to somewhere so it's <hes> it's simple math and it's the way that every other industrialized country in the world does it <hes> and there's simply no reason why we can't so <hes> aubanel amendment if it is able to move would would offer that <hes> that new negotiating power <hes> which would make a huge difference between cost downs for people on Medicare care and the <hes> the prescription drug legislation that is pending right now you. You're saying that it needs to happen this year. I mean if it doesn't <hes> there's there's no chance that it would happen next year and it just because of the political years you put it. Yeah I mean I think if you look at the history and <hes> Dave Kerr this for her a long long time you rarely see much congressional action during presidential during sort of a year leading up to a presidential election <hes> members of Congress Congress all of whom are up not all senators members of Congress the PR m people running for president therefore don't have to be on the record for any specific votes they can talk and more platitudes kids <hes> so we think that there is a short window here between sort of right after Labor Day right before Thanksgiving <hes> to get this done the house package will be out in early September <hes> they can conference with the Senate and there can <hes> there can be something to vote on <hes> before that happens and I think frankly <hes> the president needs to continue to keep talking about why he thinks issue's important. He keeps telling Americans that they're being ripped off by the drug companies we at A._A._R._p.. Agree <hes> what we're GONNA need his leadership Senate leadership leadership and House leadership to get this done seems though that all this talk about impeachment could interfere year I mean the president earlier on this year was saying that that the investigations have to stop if any legislation is going to happen <hes>. Do you have a fear there well. I mean I think that's you know <hes> like with everything in Washington. <hes> it it sort of strikes us as an unpredictable day every day. We don't quite know what's going to happen. Although we do we do know what the president said about this issue not only <hes> as as president but also during the campaign during his last campaign so we have. I'm talking about this issue. Americans Purdham talk about this issue <hes> so again we're we're. We're very hopeful <hes> <hes> A._A._R._p.. Or folks here we can't in control what happens on the impeachment process or any other thing that might happen on any given sort of crazy day in Washington <hes> but this actually looks like it it's possible and this this is coming out of a congress in in a political environment where frankly nothing is getting done so <hes>. This may be something that a lot of people can hang their hat on yeah. I I don't know I I I suspect that that <hes> this gridlock that you predict will be happening next year. We've already seen a lot of it and then not election years <hes> especially in the last last few pardon my skepticism but I I do wonder sometimes whether anything you'd get done in the current environment

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