Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Who Are You Going to Believe? Me or Your Lying Eyes?

There are four other statewide propositions on the November ballot. I need to study on the Electric Service Providers Regulation initiative... but I am mindful that it was their avarice that put Arnold in office.
Propositions 78 and 79 are both aimed at providing lower cost prescription drugs to low-income Californians. Whew! Our cup runneth over!
I honestly didn't know a damn thing about the drug discount programs in Maine and Ohio until I learned that Prop. 79 is like the Maine program and Prop. 78 is like the Ohio program.
Okay, I don't want to bore people worse than necessary so Prop. 79 says that, if a drug company wants to participate in the state's Medicaid (Medi-Cal) program, they need to provide prescription drugs to Californians earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level for the same price. If they don't then their drugs come off the Medi-Cal formulary.
What does that mean? Non-formulary drugs can still be prescribed, but the prescribing physician needs to certify the medical necessity of that specific drug in this specific case.
Prop. 78 is sponsored by the drug companies. They have a lot of very cool but scary tv ads because they've vowed to spend "whatever it takes" to make sure that 78 beats 79 at the polls. The campaign has already cost them more than $75Million.
The drug companies got an economist to go on record with a prediction that, if the program operated the way the drug companies said it could, the state could lose up to $480Million just in drug rebates. All I knew starting out was that if the drug companies were willing to spend this kind of money in a fight to continue to pay the state $480Million a year in rebates they must be making a hell of a lot of money selling prescription drugs in California.
Under 78, participation by a drug company is voluntary, and they only need to offer their lowest commercial price, and only to those earning less than 300% of the federal poverty level. I was not aware that California had adopted a program similar to Prop. 78 in the past, but it was cancelled in 2001 because... are you ready?... not enough drug companies volunteered to participate!
Okay, let's recap... we can go with Arnold's choice and with the drug companies as Ohio did (Ohio? The Ohio that went for Bush in 2004? Oh, hell no!), or we can go with a viable drug discount program that is delivering brand-name drugs for 25% off retail and generics for 50% off in Maine and is endorsed by damn near everybody except Arnold and the drug companies... or we can vote no on both of them because, even at 25% off, brand name drugs are still way over-priced... but 79 is better than nothing, no?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not fond of the drug companies, but I see trouble in this approval process. It goes something like this, a doctor orders a drug, it head to the pharmacy, the state comes back with we need authoprization, the pharmacy faxes the doctors office, the form is filled out, back to the pharmacy and state.

So if drug companies call the bluiff then we've suddenly added to the administrative costs that take up over 30% of our medical bills.

2:21 PM  

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