Argument in Favor of Proposition 79
As prescription drug prices soar, more and more Californians are forced to choose between vital medicines and other necessities.
There are two prescription drug measures on the ballot. Prop. 78 is sponsored by drug companies. Prop. 79 is sponsored by consumer, senior and health organizations, and labor unions.
The pharmaceutical industry has pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to defeat Prop. 79, launching what could be the most expensive initiative campaign in California history. Manufacturers like GlaxoSmithKline and Merck have each donated nearly $10 million. Here’s why:
PROP. 79 PROVIDES ENFORCEABLE, NOT “VOLUNTARY,” DISCOUNTS BY DRUG COMPANIES
Prop. 78 is completely voluntary for drug companies: they are free to choose whether or not to offer discounts. But California has tried a voluntary drug discount plan before. The pharmaceutical industry refused to participate so the program dissolved in 2001.
Prop. 79 has an enforcement mechanism.
If a drug company refuses to provide discounts, the state can shift business away from that company and buy from other drug companies that offer discounts.
CALIFORNIA WOULD USE ITS PURCHASING POWER TO GET THE BEST PRICE
Americans pay more for their prescriptions than consumers in many wealthy nations. That’s in part because these other governments negotiate discounts from the drug industry on behalf of their citizens.
California does something similar through Medi-Cal, negotiating discounts of 50 percent and more, saving taxpayers $5 billion in the last 10 years. Prop. 79 builds on this success, using the same mechanism to negotiate these discounts for eligible Californians. As a result, consumers will pay less out of their own pockets for prescriptions at the expense of the drug companies, not taxpayers.
Under Prop. 79, eligible Californians would get a drug discount card to present to their pharmacist to receive discounts of up to 50 percent or more.
PROP. 79 OFFERS DISCOUNTS TO 8–10 MILLION CALIFORNIANS
Nearly twice as many Californians will be eligible for discounts under Prop. 79 than under Prop. 78, including:
- Californians with catastrophic medical expenses who spend at least five percent of their income on medical expenses;
- The uninsured who earn up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($64,360 for a family of three);
- Californians on Medicare for drug costs not fully covered by Medicare;
- Seniors, the chronically ill, and others with inadequate drug coverage through private insurers or their employer.
PROP. 79 WOULD SAVE PATIENTS, TAXPAYERS, AND EMPLOYERS MONEY
By making affordable drugs more accessible to more people than Prop. 78, fewer people would fall onto Medi-Cal or other public programs, and need to use taxpayer-funded emergency rooms. Prop. 79 can reduce employers’ health premiums by authorizing a new purchasing pool to reduce drug prices for employer-paid coverage.
PROP. 79: BACKED BY DOZENS OF HEALTH, SENIOR, AND CONSUMER ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS
Stand up to the unfair, unaffordable prices of the prescription drug industry. For real, enforceable discounts of up to 50 percent or more on prescription drugs for 8–10 million Californians, VOTE YES on PROP. 79.
HENRY L. “HANK” LACAYO, State President
Congress of California Seniors
ELIZABETH M. IMHOLZ, West Coast Office Director Consumers Union
LUPE ALONZO-DIAZ, Executive Director
Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Proposition 79
There are good reasons why pharmaceutical companies, health professionals, and patient advocates oppose Proposition 79:
- The measure is so poorly written it will result in years of legal challenges and will never get approval by the federal government.
- It contains the same flaw that caused the failure of a similar program in Maine.
- Proposition 79 would let trial lawyers file thousands of lawsuits claiming that prices are too high or profits are unreasonable. Worse, the measure doesn’t define what is a fair price or profit.
The backers of Proposition 79 rant against the pharmaceutical industry to obscure the real issues. The pharmaceutical industry is just one of many that have spoken out against Prop. 79. Groups representing seniors, physicians, nurses, taxpayers, small businesses, and patients all oppose Proposition 79. Prop. 79 is also opposed by leaders in the fight against heart disease, cancer, epilepsy, asthma, AIDS, lupus, and many other diseases.
Prop. 79 won’t provide drug discounts to more people than Prop. 78 because Prop. 79 won’t ever take effect. Just like a similar measure in Maine that spent years in court and never resulted in a single drug discount, Prop. 79 is a false promise. And if Proposition 79 did ever get implemented, it would establish a big government program costing taxpayers millions to administer and put at risk over $480 million the state currently receives in drug rebates.
There is only one drug discount program on the ballot that will work and that is Proposition 78. Please don’t be fooled by Prop. 79. It’s the wrong prescription for California.
RODRIGO A. MUNOZ, M.D., Past President
San Diego County Medical Society
JOHN MERCHANT, Chair
California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse
CHRIS MATHYS, President
Valley Taxpayers Coalition, Inc.
Argument Against Proposition 79
We all want to provide cheaper prescription drugs to needy Californians, but Proposition 79 just won’t work. It’s based on a flawed proposal from the state of Maine that never went into effect, never delivered a single discount, and was ultimately abandoned by Maine. Californians don’t need another false initiative promise that will result in years of legal challenges and ultimately never go into effect.
“Maine residents were counting on a drug discount program that was just like California’s Proposition 79. But it was tied up in court and never received approval from the federal government. Not a single patient got a discounted drug as a result of that failed program.”
Calvin Fuhrmann, MD, FCCP
Kennebunk Medical Center, Maine
Backed by public employee unions, Proposition 79 sets up another big government program that will cost California millions. With huge budget deficits that already affect funding for critical programs, how can we take on a massive new government program? On top of that, Proposition 79 jeopardizes over $480 million in rebates that taxpayers currently receive from pharmaceutical companies.
Because Proposition 79 changes the state’s Medi-Cal program, which is largely funded with federal dollars, the federal government would have to approve Proposition 79. No federal administration, Democratic or Republican, has ever approved a program like Proposition 79.
Why won’t Proposition 79 receive federal approval? Prop. 79 risks the health of poor patients in order to provide drug discounts for people who make as much as $77,000 annually, including some people who already have health insurance. Proposition 79 says that if a drug manufacturer does not provide steep discounts to these higher income Californians, they can’t provide prescription drugs to help the poor, seniors, and disabled patients who depend on Medi-Cal.
“Proposition 79 jeopardizes access to prescription drugs for the lowest income and most vulnerable individuals in this state.”
Neva Hirschkorn, Executive Director
Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California
A hidden section in Proposition 79 will let trial lawyers file thousands of frivolous lawsuits simply by claiming the price charged for the product is too much or that the manufacturer’s profits are too high. The initiative doesn’t define what is a fair price or a reasonable profit! Worse, trial lawyers don’t need a client to bring these lawsuits and can keep for themselves 100% of the money they are able to force from a defendant!
"Last November, Californians passed Proposition 64 to prevent shakedown lawsuits. Proposition 79 would re-open the door to shakedowns, flood our courts with frivolous litigation, and drive up the cost of prescription drugs.”
John H. Sullivan, President
Civil Justice Association of California
Like so many previous initiatives, 79 won’t deliver what it claims. It will result in years of litigation and will ultimately be rejected by the federal government. It creates an expensive big government program, jeopardizes the health of low income Californians, and will result in a deluge of frivolous litigation benefiting trial lawyers at our expense.
Prop. 79 is the wrong prescription for California. Join seniors, taxpayers, health advocates, patients, and small businesses and VOTE NO on Proposition 79.
TOM MURPHY, Chair
California Arthritis Foundation Council
JOHN KEHOE, Policy Director
California Senior Advocate League
RODNEY HOOD, MD, President
Rebuttal to Argument Against Proposition 79
If Prop. 79 won’t work, why did drug companies contribute more than $50 million to defeat it?
PROP. 79 IS BASED ON CALIFORNIA EXPERIENCE
Prop. 79 builds on a successful effort that reduces drug costs for California through enforceable discounts.
PROP. 79 SAVES TAXPAYERS MONEY
The discounts are delivered to consumers from drug companies and pharmacies. This not only saves money for consumers, and gets them the care they need, it also saves taxpayers money on health care costs.
PROP. 79 CAN BE IMPLEMENTED IMMEDIATELY
“Thousands of Maine residents have received drug discounts through our program, without the need for federal approval, despite aggressive opposition and litigation by the pharmaceutical companies.”
Maine Governor John E. Baldacci, July 2005
PROP. 79 HELPS CALIFORNIANS GET THE DRUGS THEY NEED
Prop. 79 will not put the health of poor Californians at risk. It employs the same, successful mechanism the Medi-Cal drug program has used for the last decade to help provide California with the best price. Protections are already in place to ensure Medi-Cal patients don’t go without the prescriptions they need.
IF ANYBODY USES THE COURTS AGGRESSIVELY, IT’S THE DRUG COMPANIES
The drug companies launched dozens of lawsuits across the country to keep discount efforts like Prop. 79 from becoming law. They have already sued to block Prop. 79, only to have the case dismissed by a judge.
Join consumer, senior, and health organizations: VOTE YES on Prop. 79.
Check the facts and research for yourself.
BETTY PERRY, Public Policy Director
Older Women’s League of California
MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, President
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
JACQUELINE JACOBBERGER, President
League of Women Voters of California