In June of 1970, I graduated from the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy and shortly after that passed the State Board of Pharmacy Exam and became licensed to practice Pharmacy. In the ensuing 47 plus years I have watched the evolution of my beloved profession grow to become one of the most respected and trusted jobs in the world.
The reason I am telling you this now is the future of Health Care is seriously imperiled, and I am asking for your help in electing Brianna Westbrook to the AZ 8th district Congressional seat. A couple of her primary platform pieces are MEDICARE FOR ALL and negotiated drug prices for Medicare & Medicaid in order to have similar costs as most other countries. I will take you on a journey of how Big Ins and BigPharm have become the determining parties of what you pay and WHAT drugs you may receive. Medicare for All, in its purest form, will guarantee medical coverage for every American. There will no age requirements and will upon birth medical coverage will be provided.
Going back to 1970, there were no third party payers for prescriptions. If your medical plan had drug coverage, you were required to pay up front and submit a claim to your insurance company for reimbursement. As time passed, the great minds form Big Ins and Big Pharm hatched what would become PBMs-Pharmacy Benefits Managers such as CVS Caremark, Blue Cross, and Cigna. They determine, to a large degree, which drugs are in your Formulary and which co-pay you’re going to be charged. This also determines if a drug is covered at all or if a Prior Authorization is necessary. Generics are, of course, the preferred option and are least expensive and are quite acceptable. The problem I see is with drugs that have no generic equivalents such as Insulin.
I will focus on Insulin specifically for this purpose. I am a Type 2 diabetic and require daily insulin injections. Injections are given via different methods. The most cost-effective is to use a syringe or inject the proper dose by filling the syringe yourself when you need a shot. The most patient-friendly approach is to use Prefilled Pens that use a screw on needle, and you turn a dial to your correct dose. VERY ACCURATE and patient-friendly. ALSO very expensive. I have been using the pens for years, but I am switching to syringes this year due to cost. The pens cost about $100 a month until I hit the donut hole and then well over $200 a month for the rest of the year. The syringe method is half that. If you don’t have drug coverage, the cost likely is $600 a month so you can see why Medicare For All is so essential. Too many individuals must decide if they can buy food or get medication.
Trying to tie all this together, if Medicare for All were mandated Americans would not have to decide whether to get medication or food this month. Requiring price negotiations for Medicare cost of drugs will benefit everyone and is a backbone of Brianna Westbrook’s platform along with Medicare for All. I urge you to vote for Brianna and help her reach her goal of Medicare for All, negotiated drug prices, taking money out of lobbying and removing the effects of Dark Money. Congress is not for sale.
Brianna Westbrook is the best choice to bring AZ 08 into the Fight for America’s leadership role it so richly deserved.
Geoffrey S. Sheinin R.Ph