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Soaring Drug Prices a Big Issue for Older Mainers

The prices of name-branded drugs commonly used by older adults rose 8.4 percent last year. (freegr/Pixabay)
The prices of name-branded drugs commonly used by older adults rose 8.4 percent last year. (freegr/Pixabay)
October 5, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine – Huge price increases for prescription drugs are concerns that Maine voters over 50 want political candidates to address.

A report from the AARP Public Policy Institute found the cost of brand-name drugs most commonly used by older adults rose by 8.4 percent last year, four times the general rate of inflation.

According to Lori Parham, state director of AARP Maine, in a survey of Maine voters over 50, most say the positions of candidates for public office on how to deal with those increases are very important to them.

"Another 75 percent think drug companies have a lot of influence over members of Congress,” says Parham. “So they're concerned, and they're not convinced that their member of Congress will do the right thing."

AARP Maine is co-sponsoring candidates' debates beginning with a gubernatorial debate on Oct. 23, and a Senate debate on Oct. 30.

Parham points out that many voters already are aware of actions that Congress could take to combat rising drug prices.

"Eighty-six percent of Maine voters 50-plus support importation of prescription drugs,” says Parham. “And 81 percent support allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs."

The AARP report says the average older American, who takes about four prescriptions each month, would have faced more than $30,000 in brand-name drug costs last year.

Voters over age 50 are among the most powerful and reliable voting blocs, and Parham sees this election as an opportunity to hold government representatives accountable.

"Folks need to get involved,” says Parham. “They need to ask the candidates where they stand, and they need to take that information into the voting booth on November 6th."

She adds a nonpartisan overview of issues important to seniors in this election is online at AARP.org/vote.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - ME