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Jane Marks: West Virginia Taking Lead In National Rx Drug Affordability Movement

Following is an op-ed from AARP West Virginia State President Jane Marks, focused on the latest efforts of the West Virginia Legislature to reduce out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for thousands of West Virginia families.

Under the Capitol Dome in Charleston, the West Virginia Legislature is making important progress on an issue that affects thousands of West Virginians and their families.

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AARP WV State President Jane Marks

West Virginia has the highest adult rate of diabetes in the nation at 15.7 percent, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control. For many in West Virginia and across the nation who depend on daily injections of insulin, the costs of this life-sustaining drug have become unaffordable.

From 2014 to 2019, insulin costs increased by 64 percent, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The West Virginia Legislature is a leader in the national movement to bring greater prescription drug affordability for those who need insulin to survive. Within the first 15 days of the 2022 60-day regular session, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation (House Bill 4252) to lower the out-of-pocket costs for insulin and devices. At least 18 other states that have already taken similar action to cap costs.

The West Virginia legislation is pending further action in the State Senate, and AARP is a strong supporter of these efforts to provide needed financial relief to West Virginia patients and their families.

States like West Virginia are doing what has proven to be difficult at the federal level, passing bipartisan pricing reform. Why can’t we take these steps to address all prescription drug costs? Well, we can!

Congress has an historic opportunity to lower drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate for the costs of prescription drugs. This move would save older Americans and Medicare billions of dollars.

More than 80 percent of voters nationwide support letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices. It’s time for leaders in Washington to get this done. Americans are sick and tired of paying three times what people in other countries pay for the same drugs.

For years, Big Pharma has fought tooth and nail to prevent any laws that would lower the cost of prescription drugs – and cut their soaring profits. Their hundreds of paid lobbyists denounce even the smallest change as an impending catastrophe. But the real disaster is our unfair system, which leaves one in four Americans unable to afford the prescriptions they need. 

Failure to pass meaningful prescription drug reform is a win for Big Pharma, so they can keep ripping off older Americans and threatening Medicare.

What can you do? You can join AARP and our nearly 38 million members in letting Congress know that it’s time to do what’s right and lower drug prices. Take action here: https://action.aarp.org/secure/senate-medicare-rx

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