A bipartisan Prescription Drug Affordability Board presents an opportunity to reduce the cost of prescription drugs

ai express – On the day following the November election, Governor Glenn Youngkin expressed his intention to adopt a bipartisan approach during the upcoming legislative session. He emphasized the voters’ desire for elected officials to work together and find common ground on important matters, such as addressing the increasing cost of living.

As a bipartisan group of legislators from both the Democratic and Republican parties, we wholeheartedly share the same sentiment. In light of a divided legislature, we must prioritize the enactment of bipartisan laws that enhance the affordability of life for Virginians. That is precisely why we are introducing a practical proposition during the upcoming 2024 legislative session, aimed at curbing the exorbitant prices of prescription drugs.

Our proposed legislation aims to establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which would consist of a panel of independent health experts responsible for assessing the prices of expensive prescription drugs and determining fair out-of-pocket limits for consumers. These boards play a vital role in preventing pharmaceutical companies from engaging in price gouging and charging exorbitant amounts for essential medications. PDABs have already been successfully implemented in eight states, including Minnesota and Colorado, under the leadership of both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Our constituents, from Galax to Fairfax, are urging us to take action on the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs. For countless Virginians, the ability to afford medication is not merely a matter of maintaining a certain standard of living; it is a matter of life and death.

Despite our different party affiliations and representing various regions within the Commonwealth, the constituents we serve all share a common desire for us to tackle the escalating cost of healthcare in Virginia. According to a recent AARP poll, a staggering three-quarters of Virginia voters are in favor of their legislators passing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB). This sentiment is shared by 85% of Democrats, 71% of Republicans, and 70% of Independents. The proposal also garnered substantial support in all six regions of the commonwealth, as demonstrated by a 2022 Mason-Dixon poll. It is noteworthy that amidst the current partisan divisions, there are very few issues that enjoy such overwhelming bipartisan support.

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Taking on Big Pharma is a crucial step towards making our commonwealth more affordable. For the past decade, Virginians have been facing the brunt of soaring prescription drug costs, surpassing the national average. The impact of rising medicine expenses is felt by the majority of Virginians, with 35% of residents unable to fill their prescriptions as prescribed. In 2020 alone, Virginians spent 36% more per person on prescription drugs compared to the rest of the country. Addressing this issue is necessary to alleviate the financial burden on our community.

In 2023, the PDAB initiative garnered widespread support and enthusiasm, as evidenced by the bipartisan backing it received in the Virginia Senate. A diverse range of advocates, including AARP Virginia, the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Virginia Association of Counties, and the Commonwealth Council on Aging, all rallied behind the cause. However, despite this strong support, the bill ultimately met its demise in a dawn meeting of a small House subcommittee. Regrettably, the majority of our House colleagues were denied the chance to vote on it.

Seniors and hardworking families cannot afford to let this bill die again. Take, for example, Jillian Goodwin from Norfolk, Virginia, who relies on over 15 different medications every day, costing her tens of thousands of dollars each month. Implementing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) would be transformative for her, making it more accessible and affordable to sustain her life.

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Jillian is not the only one. There are also others like Mara Shapiro in Charlottesville, who lives with Crohn’s and Addison’s disease, and Del. Delaney’s daughter Kaitlyn in Fairfax, who has type 1 diabetes. Many Virginians across the commonwealth rely on us to take action and tackle this issue directly.

We share Gov. Youngkin’s belief that it is crucial to find “common ground” to address the rising cost of living and healthcare. We urge him to support our initiative by encouraging every member of the General Assembly to vote in favor of establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. This board will play a vital role in lowering the cost of living for all Virginians.

The writers consist of members from the General Assembly, including Deeds, a Democratic state senator from Charlottesville, Stanley, a Republican state senator from Franklin County, and Delaney, a Democratic member of the House of Delegates from Fairfax County.

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