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West Virginians Rally for Fair Prescription Drug Prices


Monday, December 13, 2021   

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginians concerned about the rising cost of drug prices say they want Sen. Joe Manchin - D-W.Va. - to Vote for the Build Back Better Act, which contains provisions that would lower the cost of prescription drugs and expand Medicare coverage.

West Virginia Organizer Troy Miller with the group Social Security Works explained the legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices on behalf of recipients.

He said that could be a game changer for many grandparents who are primary caregivers for their grandchildren - and are seeing their household budgets further squeezed by rising drug prices.

"Many of those grandparents are also on Medicare and are seeing their drug prices go up year after year," said Miller. "And they're losing money on fixed incomes because of this."

Last week West Virginians held a rally in Morgantown featuring a mobile billboard highlighting Manchin's support for lower drug costs, and another rally will be held in Charleston this week.

Miller said the mobile billboard will visit municipal buildings, senior centers and nursing homes throughout the state.

Manchin continues to hold out on voting for the Build Back Better Act, citing its $1.75 trillion cost and concerns over the national debt and inflation.

According to a survey from Patients for Affordable Drugs more than 9 out of 10 West Virginia voters back reforms that give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. Miller said voters are demanding healthcare system changes.

"When you talk to Americans, they want the federal government to step in and do something," said Miller. "And every other country in the world has figured this out. And Joe Manchin can get us part of the way there."

Congress also is considering adding new hearing benefits to Medicare as part of the legislation.

Professor Emeritus of speech language pathology at West Virginia University, Kenneth St. Louis explained most insurance companies don't cover hearing aids, which can range from $1,000 to $4,000 retail.

"Untreated hearing loss is associated with a whole host of other problems," said St. Louis, "not the least of which is depression, isolation, even increased falls."

The Build Back Better Act would fine drug companies for increasing prices faster than inflation, and would add a $2,000 a-year cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug spending for Medicare beneficiaries.

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