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Sep 22, 2004
CONTACT: Jerry Flanagan, (310) 392-0522 ext. 319 - ISDN Line Available
Bush and Kerry Invited to Join Seniors On Board the Rx Express to Buy Lower Cost Prescriptions in CanadaA nonpartisan consumer group today sent a letter inviting President Bush and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry to join seniors and other patients on board a chartered train taking riders to buy lower cost prescription drugs in Canada.
The Rx Express, scheduled to leave Miami on October 11, will include seniors enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug discount card program who still cannot afford their medications. The Rx Express took a similar trip on the West Coast during which riders saved 59.8% off the drug prices they pay in the U.S. for a total annual savings of $2000 each. Click here for more information.
In the letter sent today to Bush and Kerry, FTCR wrote:
"As many Rx Express riders will tell you, the Medicare prescription drug law is inadequate and deeply flawed. Many seniors have ignored the new discount drug card program because either their medicines are not available, the discounts are not what were promised, or because the program is too complex. Other patients too young for Medicare cannot afford basic health coverage because prescription drug increases are making health care unaffordable."
A new national survey -- click here to read -- found that among Americans with health care insurance who purchase prescription drugs:
** One-third (34%) are either already purchasing or planning to purchase lower costs prescriptions from pharmacies in Canada or other nations.
** Nearly two in ten (18 %) say they either skip medications or reduce dosages to "stretch" their medication due to high costs. This percentage equates to over 20 million Americans.
** Eight of ten (83%) say that the U.S. should follow the lead of other nations and negotiate bulk discounts on prescription drugs.
In the letter sent today FTCR wrote:
"Prescription drugs are available in Canada, England and Ireland at 30-60% less than in the United States because those countries control drug prices by negotiating rates on behalf of all patients -- a move that drug companies have blocked in the U.S. This limitation is particularly absurd given that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has used a similar strategy to save veterans more than 50% off the list price of prescription drugs."
Under pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, President Bush opposed bulk purchasing in the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law which banned the Medicare program from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical companies. While Senator Kerry has supported changes to the Medicare drug law to allow bulk discounting, neither candidate has supported a program that would allow any American to participate regardless of age.
According to federal filings, as of August 2 President Bush had received $871,824 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies and Senator Kerry had received $349,312.
The Rx Express will begin in Miami on October 11 and arrive in Toronto on October 13, picking up patients from throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
Seniors and other patients -- with significant out-of pocket costs for their prescription drugs -- interested in joining the Rx Express to Canada should contact the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights:
On the web: www.RxExpressCanada.org
Toll Free Phone Number: (877) 791-2225 ext. 320
FTCR's letter to President Bush and Senator Kerry:
President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Senator John Kerry
304 Russell Building, 3rd Floor
Washington, D.C. 20510
Re: Join Us On Board Rx Express to Canada
We invited both of you on board our recent Rx Express chartered train trip from San Diego, California to Vancouver, Canada with seniors and other patients to purchase lower cost prescription drugs. Though neither of you were able to join us on that trip, 24 passengers saved an average of 59.8% off the prices they pay in the U.S. -- that amounts to $2000 each in savings for a year's worth of prescriptions.
Talking with real patients and seniors about problems and solutions in the health care system would give both of you valuable insights that you cannot get from media buys or campaign fundraisers. During the week of October 11 you have another opportunity to join us on an Rx Express trip from Miami, Florida to Toronto, Canada.
As many Rx Express riders will tell you, the Medicare prescription drug law is inadequate and deeply flawed. Many seniors have ignored the new discount drug card program because either their medicines are not available, the discounts are not what were promised, or because the program is too complex. Other patients too young for Medicare cannot afford basic health coverage because prescription drug increases are making health care unaffordable.
Prescription drugs are available in Canada, England and Ireland at 30-60% less than in the United States because those countries control drug prices by negotiating rates on behalf of all patients -- a move that drug companies have blocked in the U.S. This limitation is particularly absurd given that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has used a similar strategy to save veterans more than 50% off the list price of prescription drugs.
Rx Express passengers waiting to talk to you about prescription drug reform include:
** Gene and Betty Greenspan have lived in Miami, Florida for over 30 years. Gene was the director of a non-profit Jewish social services organization which offered full health care benefits for he and his wife, Betty, while he was working but does not provide health care retirement benefits. Now, though Gene and Betty have supplemental health insurance with their Medicare coverage, they must pay for all their prescription costs out-of-pocket. The Greenspan's have looked into the Medicare drug discount card but could not find a program that would guarantee that their prescriptions would be available when they need them.
** Ann Streacker of Winterhaven, Florida is a single mom working for a state agency but because she was hired on a contract basis, she does not have any health care coverage for herself or her child. For Ann, 32, diagnosed this year with a long-term medical condition, the financial strain of being uninsured has forced her to buy her prescription drugs from Canada. She's worried about what will happen if shipments from Canada are blocked and would like to see U.S. policies that will provide a sustainable supply of lower cost prescription drugs.
** Joe and Joyce Shannon of Raleigh, North Carolina had prescription drug coverage for their dozen or so medications through Joe's part-time employer, a local pharmacy. That is until Joe, now in his 70s, fell and broke his hip. Following the accident, Joe went on COBRA to continue his coverage but that became too expensive on the Shannon's limited income. Now Joe and Joyce are facing a $900/month prescription drug bill and are running out of options. Joyce has limited coverage for generic drugs through supplemental insurance but it does not provide any help for the brand name drugs she needs to treat her osteoporosis.
** Mildred and Leonard Fruhling of Edison, New Jersey watched both of their grown children complete engineering degrees at Rutgers University. Mildred, who spent 25 years in health insurance sales, became active in the Medicare and prescription drug debate when she retired, but did not expect the issue to hit so close to home: three years ago her husband's employer terminated their prescription drug retirement coverage when cost increases became too great.
The Rx Express will begin in Miami on October 11 and pick up patients from throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. Both of you -- or the Vice Presidential candidates -- are welcome to join the Rx Express for any portion of the trip. Please ask your staff to contact us by Wednesday, October 6.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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Click here for more information about the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights or the Rx Express.
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