Iowa Considers Plan to Lower Prescription Drug Costs for Seniors
A new proposal being pushed by Iowa Democrats Sen. Tom Harkin and Gov. Tom Vilsack could lower Iowa seniors' out-of-pocket prescription drugs expenses, the Des Moines Register reports. The state's seniors now pay 62% of their pharmaceutical costs out-of-pocket, compared with 49% for Texas seniors, 26% for California seniors and 38% for Maryland seniors, according to Harkin's office. Under the plan, which is similar to that proposed by President-elect George W. Bush, seniors would pay a "minimal" fee to receive the benefit. The state then would obtain discounted prescription drugs either through negotiations with drug companies or through a private sector contractor on participating seniors' behalf. Washington state is developing a similar plan, in which individuals pay $15 and families pay $25 to join. "This new purchasing co-op is an important action we can take now to help lower drug costs for all Iowans," Harkin said. Vilsack said that he has formed a working group to finalize the plan's details, and Harkin aides said that a telephone number for the co-op should be available within the next few days (Norman, Des Moines Register, 12/16).