Washington, D.C., May 5, 2020 – A recent West Health-Gallup national survey showed that 66% of U.S. adults have seen a price increase on prescription drugs since 2017. In addition, 65% feel there has been little or no progress to combat these rising costs.
And, with the advent of the COVID pandemic, families in America are hurting even more. Not only are they struggling to stay healthy but they are dealing with unprecedented job loss, loss of employer-sponsored health insurance, and profound economic insecurity. In the midst of such health and economic uncertainty and as a result of the inaction of many politicians in Washington, D.C to address the growing problem of expensive prescription drugs, Families USA and West Health are joining forces to bring greater attention to the issue.
The two nonpartisan organizations have announced the launch of a new campaign called the “Act to End High Drug Prices: A West Health and Families USA Initiative,” which will document the stories of consumers whose health and financial security have been compromised by the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs before and during the COVID pandemic. The campaign will raise awareness of these deeply personal but all-to-common stories among voters throughout the country who will have a say in the November elections. It will also serve as a call to action for members of Congress, the Trump Administration, and other policymakers who are failing to establish reforms that make healthcare more affordable for families.
The groups will help consumers share their stories through a dedicated website and advocacy efforts. They will also sponsor a national, six-month fellowship for a U.S.-based healthcare journalist to develop a series about the high and rising prescription drug costs for various mediums — including print, online, broadcast, and digital.
Sixty-four year old Catherine Horine, from Wheeling, Illinois, is one such consumer. Horine pays $1,000 out-of-pocket every month for her prescriptions — exactly half of her disability income — and does not have much left over for living expenses. In fact, in an effort to afford even basic necessities, she sold her home, and at one point, lived with her parents. And because she finds herself in the Medicare Part D doughnut hole every year, she has to pay even more out of pocket until her benefits renew at the beginning of the next year.
“We cannot afford politics as usual. We have to cut through the talk and the empty promises and have real reform in this country before it breaks the backs of hardworking Americans and turns healthcare into a luxury most Americans and their families cannot afford,” said Timothy Lash, chief strategy officer for West Health and president of the West Health Policy Center. “The stories of Americans struggling with a broken healthcare system is heartbreaking, damaging to our economy and a major public health issue. Our goal is to illustrate their plight, give voice to their issues and make it hard for politicians to continue to ignore them.”
“The COVID crisis is highlighting so many of the profound cracks in the U.S. health care system. As the devastating pandemic continues, we will begin to hear more and more from families about the cost of healthcare and the economic insecurity it is exacerbating for families. It is a top issue for most Americans and we will again see it play a major role in the next election. Our goal is to have voters fully understand the issues and what’s at stake so they can make the most informed decisions about who they think will fight for them versus special interests,” said Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA. “We are thrilled to be partnering with West Health, who shares our commitment and passion about finally taking definitive measures to make sure all families have access to health and affordable health care—including controlling runaway healthcare costs.”
About Families USA
Families USA is a leading nonpartisan, national voice for health care consumers that works to ensure the best health and health care are equally affordable and accessible to all. The organization collaborates on the state and national level to advance its mission through public policy analysis, advocacy, and collaboration with partners. For more information, visit familiesusa.org and follow @FamiliesUSA.
About West Health
Solely funded by philanthropists Gary and Mary West, West Health is a family of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations including the Gary and Mary West Foundation and Gary and Mary West Health Institute in San Diego, and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. West Health is dedicated to lowering healthcare costs to enable seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. Learn more at westhealth.org and follow @westhealth.