Supporters say expensive prescription drugs are adversely affecting the quality of life of Californians. State Assemblyman Mark Ridley Thomas says Prop 79 will help low and moderate income families who are hurt by soaring drug prices. "Because they would be on a more maintenance oriented healthcare regiment with affordable drugs."
Unlike its rival Proposition 78 – in which drug makers could voluntarily reduce their prices – Prop 79 requires drug companies to participate in a drug discount program or be dropped from Medi-Cal. Opponents say that won’t help low-income patients.
"If negotiations don’t go correctly, the pharmaceutical companies can get out of California." John Kehoe – a Yes on 78 spokesman – says Prop 79 would also lead to frivolous lawsuits. "Anyone can question the cost of drugs and ask for a court hearing."
Assemblyman Mark Ridley Thomas says Prop 79 would ultimately save taxpayers money. "We live in a litigious society, there’s no denying that. Because you’re maintaining a person’s health rather than having to pay out huge sums of money related to a catastrophic illness."
Prop 79 is endorsed by Consumers Union and the American Association of Retired Persons and opposed by Governor Schwarzenegger and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association.