Elderly Lobby for Lower Drug Prices

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(Host) A coalition of Vermont elderly groups is launching a media campaign to rally support for legislation that is designed to lower the cost of many prescription drugs. Vermont AARP and the Community of Vermont Elders plan to spend $25,000 in the next few weeks to encourage Vermonters to contact their legislators about the bill.

The House and the Senate have each passed different versions of the legislation and the measure is now being reviewed by a Conference Committee. The bill, as passed by the Senate, would establish a competitive system under which the major drug companies would bid to provide specific drugs to Medicaid recipients and other health care groups. Sponsors of the bill say this bidding system will significantly reduce the cost of many drugs.

Dave Reville, associate director of AARP, says the media campaign is needed to make certain that lobbyists representing the drug companies do not weaken or kill this bill:

(Reville) "We know there is a very powerful drug lobby at work in your Statehouse and we suspect certainly that this is a bill they would rather not see passed. So we want to be sure that our lawmakers hear the message from Vermonters that this is important to them."

(Host) The Vermont Medical Society is also backing the effort to pass this bill. Vice President Paul Harrington says doctors in the state clearly recognize that major changes are needed to bring the cost of prescription drugs under control.

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