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Legislation to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs Advances in Senate on Bipartisan Vote

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Richmond, Va. - Senate Bill 274 to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB), passed the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday with strong bipartisan support. The bill passed by a 10 to 5 margin with bipartisan support, and now heads to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.

“This legislation isn't just about lowering the cost of living; it's about lowering the cost of staying alive,” said Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Charlottesville), the lead patron of SB274. “This is a major step forward towards bipartisan action to make Virginia more affordable. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to bring down the cost of healthcare in Virginia.”

In poll after poll, Virginians consistently rank making prescription drugs more affordable as one of their top priorities for the General Assembly. A recent AARP poll found that three-quarters of Virginia voters want their legislators to pass a PDAB, including 85% of Democrats, 71% of Republicans, and 70% of Independents.

“My constituents and Virginians across the Commonwealth are demanding action on soaring prescription drug costs,” said Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin). “When it comes to bipartisan solutions to lower the cost of living, taking on Big Pharma is one of the most impactful places we can start.”

A majority of Virginians have personally felt the negative effects of the rising cost of medicine. In fact, Virginians are being hit even harder than people in other states; in 2020, Virginians spent 36 percent more per person on prescription drugs than the national average. Additionally, 35 percent of Virginians report not filling their medications as prescribed.

“We are pleased to see the PDAB legislation advance to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee with bipartisan support,” said Jim Dau, State Director of AARP Virginia. “No one should have to skip doses or not fill a prescription because of cost, and for that, we are grateful to the Senators who voted to advance this commonsense legislation. Establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board is a critical step forward in lowering the cost of medicine for older Virginians and all Virginians.”

 

Delegate Karrie Delaney is carrying the House companion bill, HB570, which passed the House Labor and Commerce committee on Thursday February first and now heads to the House Appropriations committee. Senators Deeds and Stanley and Delegate Delaney penned an op/ed last week urging their colleagues to pass the legislation.

Background

The price of prescription drugs are increasing well above the rate of inflation. Americans pay more for their medicine than any country on earth, and Virginians pay 36% more than the national average.

In 2023, AARP Virginia polled voters of all ages and found that:

· 35% of Virginians chose not to fill a prescription in 2023.

· three out of four (75%) Virginia voters support creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

· two-thirds (67%) of voters take prescription drugs, and half of them spend more than $600 annually on their medication.

· 63% of voters are concerned about the cost of medication.

· across party lines, voters strongly support the creation of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (Democrats - 85%, Republicans - 71%, Independents - 70%).

The Policy

A Prescription Drug Affordability Board would:

· be an independent state board with the authority to set an upper payment limit on a few of the highest-cost medications for Virginians.

· save taxpayers money by reducing state and local government spending on prescription drugs.

· help ensure affordable access to life-saving medicine for illnesses like cancer and diabetes.

· mitigate out-of-control prices set by the big drug companies.

With nearly 1 million members in Virginia, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people age 50+ and their families in the Commonwealth. In recent years, AARP Virginia has successfully fought for Medicaid expansion, protections for older people against financial exploitation, nursing home staffing standards and empowering family caregivers.

To learn more about AARP Virginia, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aarpvirginia and follow @AARPVa on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aarpva.


AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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