RPEC Weekly ACTION Newsletter – 1-11-2019
In This Edition
- Drug Companies Kick Off New Year with Price Hikes
- PEBB Introduces Medicare Bill
- Balance Our Tax Code
Drug Companies Kick Off New Year with Price Hikes
From the Alliance for Retired Americans – Drugmakers started off 2019 with price increases in the United States on more than 250 prescription drugs, including the world’s top-selling medicine, Humira. According to a Goldman Sachs analysis, prices were raised on about 27% of the top 500 branded drugs.
The average list price increase was 4 percent, half what it was in 2018. However, many analysts who follow the industry anticipate that pharmaceutical companies will wait to raise drug prices until after the first week of January to avoid the spotlight.
Allergan was particularly aggressive. It raised list prices on more than 50 drugs, and more than half of those by 9.5 percent. Because the United States leaves drug pricing to market competition, Americans pay higher prices than in other countries where governments directly or indirectly control the costs. As a result, the United States is the world’s most lucrative market for manufacturers, to the detriment of consumers.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed policy changes aimed at lowering drug prices and passing more of the discounts negotiated by health insurers on to patients. However, those measures are not expected to provide substantial relief to consumers in the short-term and fail to provide government health agencies with the authority to negotiate or regulate drug prices.
“We will not see drugs truly become more affordable in this country until we allow Medicare to use its power to negotiate prices with drug corporations,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Taking lesser, inadequate measures but not doing so is like putting a band-aid on a major wound.”
PEBB Bill Introduced
Representative Dolan (22nd Legislative District) has introduced a bill to help Medicare-eligible retirees who are struggling with health care costs. House Bill 1085 would require the state to cover at least 50% of monthly premium cost for those who receive their coverage under the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB).
We encourage you to contact your members of the Legislature to urge them to support this bill. The Legislative Hotline is 1-800-562-6000.
Balance Our Tax Code
RPEC recently joined the Balance Our Tax Code coalition in efforts to reform the Washington State tax codes.
From BalanceOurTaxCode.com – “Our tax code is completely upside down. In fact, Washington has the most unbalanced, broken tax system in the country. Powerful special interests have manipulated the tax code by inserting tax breaks and special deals that only benefit themselves. Our state’s combination of tax loopholes and special deals for the rich means the wealthiest among us get richer while regular working families pay more — as much as 6 times the rate the wealthiest pay. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Special Interests rigged a system so those making the least pay 18% or more of their income toward state and local taxes, those in the middle pay 11%, and the richest pay 3% or less.”
Next week, RPEC, along with other coalition members will participate in a social media “push” raising awareness to the problems of our upside-down tax code. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more information.