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Federal funds boost Northeast high-speed EV charging network; the Heat Dome remains the top story over more than half the nation; Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in TX face health disparities; Groups debunk claims of 'skyrocketing' numbers of non-citizen voters.

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U.S. House passes the National Defense Authorization Act, with hard-right amendments. Political scientists say they worry a second Trump presidency could 'break' American democracy, while farmers voice concerns about the Farm Bill.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Older Coloradans Press Congress to Lower Drug Prices

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022   

It's been two months since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, which includes reforms that aim to bring down prescription medication costs, and advocates for people age 50 and older say it's time for the Senate to get the job done. It could be a rare chance for bipartisanship in Congress.

Bob Murphy, director of AARP Colorado, said letting Medicare negotiate with drug companies to lower drug prices has broad support with voters from both major parties.

"Just strictly from a taxpayer's viewpoint, allowing Medicare to negotiate prices on prescription drugs, and it's crazy that they can't, would save taxpayers just billions and billions and billions a year," he said.

All Republicans and two Democratic senators oppose Build Back Better, and President Joe Biden recently conceded that only chunks of the $1.7 trillion measure might advance. Drug companies also have opposed allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, claiming that high profit margins help companies reinvest in research for new medicines.

Murphy noted that the pharmaceutical industry spends $161 million a year lobbying Congress, but it doesn't outnumber AARP's 38 million members. He said older Americans living on fixed incomes require more than four medications a year, on average - and they are tired of paying drug prices three times higher than the rest of the world.

"Many of our members are, in fact over 65, and over 70, and are in that group of people that are taking four-and-a-half prescriptions a year," he said. "We have the people on our side calling into senators' offices to say, 'The time is now, do it.' That's something that 'Pharma' doesn't have, the people. We do."

The price of medicines to treat chronic conditions has risen by 300% since 2005. Murphy said passing drug-price reforms would go a long way to blunt the effects of inflation.

"If a gallon of milk was inflated at the same price as prescription drugs since 2006, it would cost over $12," he said. "And a gallon of milk is not life-saving - prescription drugs are."

Disclosure: AARP Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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