17 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 8, 2022 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Senator Gillibrand announces new plan to slash
prescription drug prices during visit to Flushing
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
As pharmaceutical companies have implemented
drug price increases on hundreds of
prescription medications, Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand announced her policy package to
lower the cost of drug prices during a press
conference at the Korean Community Services
of Metropolitan New York (KCS) in Flushing
on Monday, March 28.
Gillibrand was joined by Queens Congresswoman
Grace Meng, Councilwoman Linda Lee,
Ravi Reddi, associate director of Advocacy and
Policy at the Asian American Federation (AAF),
and Myoungmi Kim, president and CEO of KCS,
for a tour of the facility, located at 42-15 166th St.
According to Gillibrand, the increased prices
are on top of already high costs that New Yorkers
already face today.
“When you go to the pharmacy, you can be
charged two to three times as much as people
in other countries for the exact same medicine,”
said Gillibrand, who is a member of the Aging
Committee. “Health care is a human right, not
a privilege. But right now, lifesaving medicine
is only lifesaving if you can aff ord it, and this
has to change.”
Gillibrand sent a letter to congressional
leadership calling for comprehensive action
on reducing the cost of drugs and introduced
her plan, “Gillibrand’s Prescription for Lower
Drug Prices” that includes fi ve core bills:
Reimagine fi nancial assistance for Medicare:
A bill to create the Medicare Cost Assistance
Program, a new, streamlined program to provide
assistance with Medicare Part A and Part
B premiums and cost-sharing for low-income
individuals. Th is would reimagine fi nancial
assistance for Medicare Part A, Part B and
Part D. Th e legislation would also expand and
streamline the administration of the Extra Help
program to provide premium and cost-sharing
assistance to eligible low-income individuals
with Medicare Part D.
Review brand-name price gouging: A bill
that would level the market for Americans
purchasing prescription drugs by pegging
the price in the United States to the median
price in Canada, the United Kingdom, France,
Germany and Japan.
Empower Medicare to negotiate drug prices:
A bill would direct the secretary of Health and
Human Services to negotiate lower prices for
prescription drugs under Medicare Part D.
Import lower-cost drugs from Canada: A bill
to allow patients, pharmacists and wholesalers
to import safe, aff ordable medicine from
Canada and other major countries.
Expand subsidies to seniors living in U.S.
territories: A bill that would make Medicare
benefi ciaries in U.S. territories, such as Puerto
Rico, eligible for the Medicare Part D Low
Income Subsidy program. Under current law,
low-income Medicare benefi ciaries in Puerto
Rico and other U.S. territories are ineligible
for Medicare Part D subsidies. Th is program,
known as “Extra Help,” provides federal subsidies
to help low-income seniors with their
monthly premiums and other out-of-pocket
prescription drug costs.
According to Gillibrand, 30% of adults are
not taking their medication as prescribed
due to rising costs. Th e issue, Gillibrand says,
weighs heavily on seniors.
“Nearly 9 in 10 older adults take prescription
medication and 1 in 4 of those seniors say it’s
too diffi cult to aff ord them. Even with help from
Medicare, the portion of prescription drug costs
that older adults are responsible for, can be overwhelming
on a fi xed income,” Gillibrand said.
“Medicare is facing rising costs as well.”
Under current law, the secretary of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) is prohibited from negotiating lower
drug prices on behalf of Medicare Part D benefi
ciaries. In contrast, other government programs,
like Medicaid and the Department of
Veterans Aff airs (VA), are allowed to negotiate.
According to a recent report by the Government
Accountability Offi ce, Medicare paid
twice as much for the same prescription drugs
as the VA in 2017.
In 2020, fi ve of the largest pharmaceutical
companies in the U.S. made nearly $45 billion
in profi ts. Th at same year, in the midst of a twin
public health and economic crisis, drug makers
raised the prices of more than 860 prescription
drugs by 5%, on average. In 2020, the average
annual cost of therapy for widely used specialty
drugs was more than $84,000.
“Th is is nearly three times the median income
for people on Medicare and more than four
and half times the average Social Security
retirement benefi t,” Kim said.
Read more on PoliticsNY.com.
Photo by Carlotta Mohamed
Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng (l.) joins Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand at a press conference at the Korean
Community Services Center (KCS) in Flushing.
Rozic’s price gouging bill passes Consumer Aff airs and Protection Committee
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
A legislative package addressing pandemic-related
price gouging sponsored by Assemblywoman
Nily Rozic passed the Committee on Consumer
Aff airs and Protection on Tuesday, March 29.
Rozic’s bill, A9193A, would triple penalties
for instances of fraud in order to
deter bad actors. It focuses on fraudulent
conduct during an abnormal disruption of
the market such as the coronavirus pandemic.
Another bill, A5860, sponsored by
Rozic’s colleague, Assemblywoman Karines
Reyes, would add medications facing supply
shortages to the list of goods prohibited
from being sold at high prices under the
state’s price gouging statute.
Th e legislative package was reported to the
Assembly Codes Committee.
Th e Federal Trade Commission estimates
that New Yorkers have lost approximately $22
million to COVID-related fraud. Rozic’s bill
aims to protect New Yorkers subject to such
practices and off ers them legal recourse.
“No New Yorker should have to deal with
fraud and deception — especially during the
most vulnerable times,” said Rozic, chair of the
Consumer Aff airs and Protection Committee.
“Th is legislation would ensure that penalties
against bad actors are a suffi cient deterrent and
will go a long way to protect consumers during
this pandemic and beyond.”
According to Reyes, Bill A5860 would protect
New Yorkers against predatory actions of the
drug industry looking to turn a profi t at the
expense of those with the most need.
“When our state fi rst faced the uncertainty of
the pandemic, price gougers preyed on the fear
of shocked consumers,” Reyes said. “Essential
items like medicine must be secure against
greedy and exploitative businesses that seek
to take advantage of needy customers and a
shortage. A5860A would protect New Yorkers
against predatory actions of the drug industry
looking to turn a profi t at the expense of those
with the most need.”
QNS fi le photo
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic