Sanders set to work with Douglas on drug

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(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders wants to work with the Douglas administration to help Vermont join other states in importing prescription drugs from Canada.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Sanders says it’s unlikely that President George Bush will reform the nation’s health care system. So he thinks it’s up to the states to become laboratories that find ways to provide universal coverage.

Sanders believes that Vermont should join with Wisconsin, Illinois and several other states to buy drugs from Canada. Sanders says he hopes to work with Vermont Republicans on the issue.

(Sanders) “I know Jim Douglas. I think if the Legislature comes out with a serious, well-thought out proposal, I have no reason to doubt that the governor will not be supportive of it. It’s not a radical idea. The governor of Minnesota is a Republican. Four states are already doing this. And basically, what they are saying is look, we can in some cases save consumers 30, 50 percent off cost of prescription drugs, and save the state money. It’s happening right now. Why not join?”

(Host) Sanders will also push for legislation that would allow the federal government to grant waivers to states to use federal funds for universal health care plans.

(Sanders) “Clearly, the federal government, especially under an extreme right-winger like George Bush, is not going to bring us universal health care. That goes without saying. I think real activity as has been the case in many areas will come at the state level. And we’ve seen that initiative in terms of prescription drugs and I certainly want to see that initiative in terms of health care.”

(Dillon) A spokesman for Governor Douglas says the governor does not support re-importing drugs from Canada because it’s currently illegal. The spokesman says Douglas wants other states to join Vermont’s lawsuit that challenges the federal government’s ban on drug imports.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

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