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AARP leaders push for prescription cost remedies in Democrats' reconciliation bill

Mark Lennihan

In an effort to combat sky-high prescription costs, the AARP of New York held a telephone town hall Monday to discuss plans for lawmakers.

The plans include a state ban on allowing brand-name manufacturers to postpone cheaper generic drug availability.

Beth Finkel, the New York Director for AARP, said the high prices for prescriptions are unfair and legislation must be passed.

“It's unfair that Americans pay more than three times more than what other countries pay for the same medicine and its just wrong that many Long Island seniors are forced to choose between filling a prescriptions or buying their groceries,” Finkel said.

The state-level plans also encourage importing cheaper drugs from other countries, and expanding the New York's Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program.

“Drug companies are adding insult to injury by setting high prices and increasing them every year and stopping such practice could make a real difference,” said Leigh Purvis, the national director of health care costs at the AARP.

Megan O’Reilly with the AARP said the group’s main federal priorities are Medicare negotiation, capping out-of-pocket costs and penalizing drug companies for raising prices faster than inflation.

“They can save hundreds of billions of dollars and that's because they really will drive those prices down,” O'Reilly said.

Purvis said the drug pricing provision would save the federal government over $450 billion dollars over a decade and reduce drug prices up to 75%.

U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice has voted against the provision in Democrats' $3.5 trillion social infrastructure package. She said she does not support advancing provisions that jeopardize the bill’s final passage.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.