Iowans press for relief from skyrocketing drug costs

Advocates for Americans 50 and older want Congress to pass legislation before the end of the year to stop the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs.

Anthony Carroll, associate state director for advocacy for AARP Iowa, says he heard many disturbing accounts from seniors at the State Fair this summer, including reducing prescription dosages to save money and choosing between medicine and groceries, or fuel to heat their home.

Carroll says with prescription drugs increasing by thousands of dollars each year, Congress needs to act quickly.

“The average cost of prescription drug treatment in Iowa went up from 2012 to 2017 by 58%, so people deserve to be outraged,” Carroll states.

Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee sent a bill, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to the full House floor for a vote by the end of the month.

It has a high chance of approval there, but Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have their own bipartisan drug price bill.

Both would cap patient cost sharing under the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.

The lack of progress on alarming drug pricing increases led the AARP to launch the nationwide “Stop Rx Greed” campaign this year, calling on Congress to rein in drug prices for all Americans.

Carroll maintains there are enough similarities between the House and Senate bills that legislators should be able to find a compromise by year’s end.

“Really it’s about taking advantage of this window of opportunity to get a bill passed that resonates with older Iowans and people who are struggling with prescription drug costs, because no Iowan should have to pay the highest price for drugs in the world, for the medicines they need,” he states.

The average annual cost of prescription treatment in Iowa has jumped 58% in recent years, while the average income increased only 7.4%.

AARP reports that in 2017, 30% of Iowans stopped taking medications prescribed, because of cost.