June 08, 2020
Iowa ARA VP Kay Pence – Pandemic Exposes Need for Lower Drug Prices & Reigning in Big Pharma
Finally, some good health care news. The American Society of Clinical Oncology recently reported that there were fewer cancer deaths in states that expanded health care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They compared cancer deaths in 2011-13, before the ACA went into effect, with cancer deaths in 2015-17 in states that expanded coverage and those that did not. The study excluded people over 65 since older Americans have access to healthcare through Medicare. Nobody should be surprised by this result; expanding access to preventative care and early treatment has positive results for many illnesses.
COVID-19 exposed the risks of losing employer-based healthcare and gave more people appreciation of the ACA safety net. Being “legally able” to continue employer-based health insurance through COBRA is an unaffordable option for most laid-off workers.
The pandemic also exposed the need for lower drug prices and strong action to rein in the pharmaceutical industry business practices. It is infuriating Senator Ernst refuses to require that any COVID-19 vaccine or treatment developed with taxpayer dollars will be affordable for everyone. As it stands now, there is nothing to stop these corporations from charging thousands per dose for medicines that would save lives from this horrible disease.
We need to remember the four largest drug companies alone saved $7 billion with the 2017 Trump tax cuts. Instead of lowering drug costs, much of that windfall was used for stock buy-backs, lobbying, executive bonuses and campaign contributions. We need a Senator that cares more about Iowans than just big donors.
Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans Vice President, Kay Pence
Originally published in the Quad City Times on June 8, 2020.