In the Midst of the COVID Pandemic, Families USA, West Health Join Forces to Tackle High Prescription Drug Costs

Tuesday, May, 5th, 2020

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 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 and follow @westhealth.


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2020 West Health-Families USA

Prescription Drug Costs Reporting Fellowship

Millions of Americans cannot afford their prescription drugs, a reality with health and life consequences for consumers across the nation—and their stories need to be told. Consumer voices can help policymakers understand the tradeoffs hard-working people are making to afford their medicine and support the development of targeted policy solutions to curb high and rising drug costs.


Want to amplify consumer voices in the conversation around prescription drug costs? Apply for the 2020 West Health-Families USA Prescription Drug Costs Reporting Fellowship. 

West Health and Families USA are selecting a talented health care journalist committed to telling the stories of people struggling to pay for their medications or doing without them completely. This special opportunity to enliven the conversation on increasing prescription drug affordability for America’s families is part of the new “Act to End High Drug Prices” West Health and Families USA initiative to make consumers’ experience part of the national discourse on high and rising prescription drug costs and encourage far-reaching action on the issue by Congress, the drug industry, and the Administration.


Fellowship Details

The West Health-Families USA Reporting Fellowship will allow a U.S.-based journalist to pursue a six-month reporting project (in print, online, broadcast, or multimedia/digital form) exploring the various factors contributing to high prescription drug consumers and the effect on consumers across the nation.

Applicants may be full-time or freelance journalists with current or past health care reporting experience. The selected fellow is expected to pursue their project with support from their newsroom or freelance outlet, including a commitment to publish or air stories and content during the six-month fellowship period.

The fellowship award of $20,000 covers the cost of field reporting, health data analysis, and other project-related research, with half disbursed at the start of the fellowship and the other half upon successful completion.

The selected fellow will receive guidance from West Health, Families USA, and other drug pricing topic experts through conference calls, in-person meetings, email consultations, and webinars.


Application Process

To apply for the West Health-Families USA Prescription Drug Costs Reporting Fellowship, email the following materials by June 30th, 2020, noon Eastern to Kimberly N. Alleyne, Senior Director of Communications, and include “West Health-Families USA Reporting Fellowship” in the subject line.

  • A letter of interest explaining why you want to be selected for this fellowship and your interest in high and rising prescription drug costs.
  • A one-page resume with current contact information
  • 3 recent work samples highlighting your health care reporting
  • 3 letters of recommendations from current and past editors/supervisors

Please direct questions about this opportunity to Kimberly N. Alleyne at

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