News

July 15, 2021

LAMPa Supports Efforts to Address High Prescription Costs in PA

One in five Pennsylvanians has chosen not to fill a prescription because of cost, and another one in six has cut pills in half or skipped doses for the same reason, according to a study shared by the Pa. Health Access Network (PHAN).

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale joined PHAN partners,  the American Association of Retired Persons and Pennsylvanians struggling to manage their health and unmanageable costs of the medicine they need, as they voiced support for legislative action to bring greater transparency and lower costs to drug pricing in the Commonwealth.

“Responding to those who were sick was integral to the life and ministry of Jesus and has been a central aspect of the Church’s mission throughout its history. Health care and healing are concrete manifestations of God’s ongoing care for and redemption of all creation.” —  ELCA Social Statement “Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor.”

“A Christian understanding of stewardship and the call to love our neighbor bring us here today in response to continuing challenges in our health care system that keep us from thriving individually and as a commonwealth,” DePasquale said at a July 13 Capitol press conference at which Rep. Dan Frankel described the urgency of acting on legislation that garnered bipartisan support in the last session. According to the Altarum study, concern crosses party lines: Nine in 10 Pennsylvanians want lawmakers to take action on prescription drug prices.

The legislation proposes a Prescription Drug Affordability Board in Pennsylvania. The independent authority would have the power to give lawmakers and the public greater insight into how drugs are priced, investigate how those prices affect Pennsylvanians and set limits that lower what Pennsylvanians pay for their medications. The legislation aims to create a board of experts in health economics or clinical medicine appointed through a bipartisan process with safeguards against conflicts of interest.  Two states — Maine and Maryland — have created prescription drug affordability boards.

“We know from our feeding ministries that surprise medical bills and skyrocketing costs for medication are often factors in sending people to the charitable food system in the first place,” DePasquale said. “One of the first areas in which people cut back to make ends meet is healthy food. We especially see this among parents, who sacrifice their own nutrition to provide for their children, and seniors who feel they must choose between a full dose and a full plate. Pastors witness the struggle as they minister with members of their congregations, and many experience it firsthand when managing their own family’s health care finances.”

Health care must be understood as more than a commodity, DePasquale said. “When we take the care out of health care, a lack of transparency and accountability make it impossible for individuals to steward their own health care resources. Even doing their best to make wise decisions for their own and their family’s health, hidden costs and surprise bills create added stress on anyone at a time when they are already vulnerable. For too many Pennsylvanians who have little in reserve, this can lead to financial calamity that starts a spiral of events that result in poorer health outcomes and higher long-term costs for families, businesses and communities.”

LAMPa helped found and works as part of the Pa. Heath Access Network to improve access to quality health care for all Pennsylvanians. Read PHAN’s testimony on drug affordability in Pennsylvania.  Do you have a related story to share with lawmakers considering policies to address health care in Pennsylvania? Contact us here to start a conversation.

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