It is not news that the price of drugs in the United States is out of control, especially for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions. Almost all families have ailing people paying obscene amounts of money for medications, whether they have health insurance or not. Even when we have insurance and are fortunate enough to have a low copayment or an assistance program, pharmaceutical companies continue to charge our insurance exorbitant prices and impossible-to-justify amounts. These figures are not based entirely on actual costs or the concept that pharmaceutical companies must invest money in research and development. so they can continue to find cures for what ails us. Instead, pharmaceutical executive’s salaries climb while everyone’s premiums go up and up and up, This is not profit. This is abuse. And this level of abuse exists precisely because of the laws that Congress has enacted to protect drug companies, not American families.
However, it is not only families like mine who are victims of this medical extortion. For decades, Congress has prohibited Medicare, our largest health care program, from negotiating drug prices. Medicare basically pays what the drug companies tell them, and thus Big Pharma profits from Medicare funds with every prescription our retirees and elderly receive. They are contributing to keeping drug prices artificially high no matter who covers you. Everyone who pays taxes or health insurance bears the brunt of this legislatively enabled racket. Meanwhile, some of the politicians who vote to keep these laws in place accept shameful amounts of money from the pharmaceutical industry in contributions to their political campaigns.
The opportunity to end this medical extortion is here. Laws before Congress right now would allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of the most expensive drugs prescribed for common conditions. Many members of Congress support this effort; if your representatives are among them, call their offices to give them strength as this battle comes to the decisive finish. However, if members of your state delegation are against the bill because they say it will freeze scientific investment in new drugs (which is absolutely false) give them a piece of your mind. Most new drugs are seeded with studies funded by taxpayers through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Biomedical Advanced Research Authority (BARDA), and the Department of Defense and Energy. Without these investments, the medicines that the companies later sell to us would not exist. We pay taxes. We pay premiums. We pay copayments. We pay, and we pay, and we pay.
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