PHOENIX, Ariz. — Physicians and health professionals across Arizona are urging U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to support legislation that would reduce the high cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices.
In a letter released today, more than 160 medical professionals called on Sinema to help “millions of Arizonans — many of them our patients, all of them your constituents — afford the medications they need to be healthy and live productive lives.”
“Physicians and health professionals across Arizona who see every day how high health care costs hurt our patients are watching closely to see whether our elected leaders will stand with our patients and their families, or with Big Pharma,” said Dr. Cadey Harrel, a family physician in Tucson and the Arizona State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care. “Those of us who care for patients were encouraged to hear Sen. Sinema’s pledge when she first ran for Senate in 2018 that one of her priorities was to end the broken status quo that’s keeping health care costs high, so legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices is crucial to achieving that goal. Now that we have an opportunity to help countless Arizona families afford their medications and save lives in the process, our elected leaders have a duty to put the health and safety of people ahead of drug industry profits.”
The letter is below:
To the Hon. U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema:
As medical professionals practicing across Arizona, we urge you to support legislation that can help our patients and fellow Arizonans afford and access health care. This includes legislation currently being considered to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices. In addition to making medications more affordable for Arizonans, reducing the cost of medications can also return an estimated $500 billion to taxpayers — savings that could also help expand Medicare to more people and provide more health care services.
In our exam rooms and our clinics, we see firsthand how expensive, unaffordable prescription drugs endanger our patients. Seniors who skip arthritis, heart and diabetes medications until otherwise manageable conditions become debilitating, even deadly. Arizonans of all ages with respiratory diseases who struggle to afford the bronchodilators they need to breathe. Families that go bankrupt because cancer treatments costing tens of thousands of dollars can easily wipe out their hard-earned savings.
Already expensive medications are getting more expensive every year: Hundreds of common prescription drugs increased in price at more than double the rate of inflation in 2020. In Arizona, between 2012 and 2017, drug prices went up nearly 58 percent, while incomes inched up only 12 percent. As a result of ever-increasing and unaffordable drug prices, one in four Arizonans stopped taking the medications they need as prescribed by their health care providers.
COVID-19 continues to devastate Arizonans and increase risks of significant complications to individuals with chronic conditions. For these individuals, access to affordable medications so they can manage their illnesses is even more essential to their well-being and survival.
As medical professionals who aim to prevent harm and promote the health and safety of our patients, we urge you to live up to your promises and support current proposals in Congress to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs. Your support is crucial to helping millions of Arizonans — many of them our patients, all of them your constituents — afford the medications they need to be healthy and live productive lives.
As our U.S. senator, you have an opportunity and a responsibility to put people’s lives ahead of the profits of pharmaceutical corporations.
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care, formerly known as the Committee to Protect Medicare, is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org