It was Tuesday when U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi received petitions with more than 3,500 signatures from people throughout New York’s 22nd Congressional District.
Each petitioner is seeking the same thing: Action from Congress to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Message received, Brindisi said Wednesday at a forum to discuss and address concerns on drug costs.
Brindisi said he thinks there is no bigger issue in his district than the cost of prescription drugs. Though, when it comes to Congress lowering those costs, he believes the ball now is in the Senate’s court.
“There’s a lot of talk about bipartisanship down in Washington,” he said. “The one area that I see a silver lining, in terms of bringing Democrats and Republicans together, is to do something about the high cost of prescription drugs.”
Roughly 20 people attended the forum on the library’s second floor where Brindisi spoke.
Brindisi said there is bipartisan support for legislation that already has passed the House of Representatives.
“I know if you turn on the TV sometimes and the national news, you think nothing’s happening,” Brindisi said. “Well, guess what? Things are happening in the House, and they’re happening especially when it comes to protecting our health care and trying to lower our drug costs.”
Such solutions include allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription prices, instituting a cap on out-of-pocket costs and improving access to lower-cost generic drugs.
“If you compare us to other nations, we pay the highest costs in the world,” Stelling said. “It’s a pain point. We know for our members and many other Americans, they’re making tough choices, which means either putting food on the table or getting the medicine they need. Either one is a sacrifice to your health.”
After remarks from Stelling and Brindisi, the two fielded questions from the audience mostly related to the prescription drug issue. Here are a few of them with Brindisi’s responses:
Can Congress institute a cap on prescription drug costs?
“This is something that many countries do have: A cap on prescription drugs, and I think it’s something we should look at in this country, as well, because when you’re talking about ... having to take $30,000 every few months for cancer medication, if you’re uninsured, I don’t know how you do that. We should look at how we implement caps. Not stifling research; obviously, a lot of pharmaceutical companies are doing life-saving research and development ... but we should be looking at what’s reasonable and what we can do to put some caps in place to try and prevent exorbitant costs that we’re seeing.”
How likely is the Senate to pass the bills?
“I think there is a very strong chance of getting some of these bills through the Senate.”
Brindisi cited the ability for other countries to negotiate drug prices, cost caps on certain medications in other countries, and one he called “the elephant in the room.”
“Money. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil,” he said. “That is the same down in Washington.”