One of Big Pharma’s biggest lies about Proposition 61 is that it will bring great harm to veterans.
Unfortunately, they have convinced certain veterans organizations of this threat by the drug companies to raise prices for vets. But the falsehood is easily countered by looking at the facts.
- First, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays the lowest drug prices of any government agency not because of the drug companies’ goodwill, or as a gesture of honor by them for veterans’ service, but because federal law requires deep discounts in drugs sold to DVA. In addition, federal law also limits drug prices increases to DVA to no more than the consumer price index (CPI). It is a flat-out lie for Pharma to claim they can just raise prices at will to DVA if 61 passes.
- Second, regardless of how much DVA pays for any particular drug, the amount of money an individual veteran may have to pay out of pocket in a co-pay for a prescription drug is in no way dependent on that drug’s underlying price. A price increase will not affect how much a veteran pays. The level of benefits, and the amount of any co-pays or out of pocket costs depends on the priority classification of the veteran.
Veterans are assigned to one of eight priority groups, based primarily on type of service and level of disability as a result of service. The priority groups, and the explanations, can be found at: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/resources/priority_groups.asp
Different priority groups have different co-pay obligations. For priority group 1, and for all service-connected conditions, there is no co-pay whatsoever to the individual veteran. For priority groups 2-6, for non-service connected conditions (a condition arising not as a result of service), there is a co-pay of $8.00 for each 30-day supply of a drug. There is also a yearly co-pay cap of only $960.00. For priority groups 7-8 there is a $9.00 monthly co-pay per drug, and no annual cap. So the overwhelming number of veterans receiving pharmacy benefits from DVA pay less than $1,000 per year out of pocket – or nothing at all. Co-pay information can be found at: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/cost/copay_rates.asp
- Third, it is important to understand that only nine million of the nation’s 22 veterans receive their healthcare through DVA – and thus benefit in any way from the lower drug prices DVA pays. A large majority of veterans are therefore subject to the same exorbitant drug prices everyone else pays, and are not benefited by the lower DVA prices.
Not only will veterans not be hurt by Prop. 61, most veterans stand to benefit from lower drug prices overall, regardless of what DVA pays.