A friend's aunt drove up to L.A. from Mexico today and gave my friend's mom a package for me. It was about 10 days worth of a drug I need for peripheral neuropathy, a common side effect of chemo. Insurance companies cover the drug for diabetic neuropathy but claim it is experimental for peripheral neuropathy and resfuse to cover it. The package, which is technically illegal to bring in from Mexico, would cost around $700. In Mexico it costs $67. It's even less expensive in Thailand, which I can't get to. Bernie's bills today, which he hopes to include in the next reconciliation bill, would do 3 things:
Index the price of some drugs according the global market (sponsored by Ro Khanna in the House)
Allow Medicare to negotiate for drugs the same way the VA does (sponsored by Lloyd Doggett in the House)
Allow Americans to buy drugs from foreign sellers (sponsored by Peter Welch in the House)
Last night CNN reported that conservatives are likely to try to prevent Bernie's bill from becoming law and reconciliation, the only way to avoid a GOP filibuster, can only hold so much legislation... supposedly. "[T]he longer the wish list gets," wrote Ryan Nobles, "the more difficult it could be to get over the finish line. Moderate [CNN always stupidly uses "moderate" instead of conservative to describe right-wing politicians who oppose popular bills and are way outside the mainstream] Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia have signaled a reluctance to utilize reconciliation again to squeeze Republican senators out of the process. Sanders shook off Manchin's criticism and argued that public opinion will convince senators on the fence to support the legislation. 'So, if your question is do I think there's going to be broad support for taking on the drug companies and lowering the cost of prescription drugs?' Sanders asked. 'I do. I do believe there will be broad support.'"
In addition to the reforms he's proposing, Sanders is particularly focused on using the potential savings from Medicare to expand the program to cover dental visits, hearing aids and eyeglasses. It is a prong of his policy that already has support from Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives. Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced a similar bill in 2019 that passed that House with that provision, but the bill died in the then-Republican-led Senate.
...For Sanders, reducing the cost of prescription drugs has been a bedrock issue of his progressive policy suite and featured issue during his presidential campaign. In the days before the first presidential debate of the Democratic primary in 2019, Sanders led a group of Americans across the border from Detroit, Michigan, into Windsor, Ontario, to buy insulin at much lower cost. Sanders is hoping that this package of bills will begin the process of reducing the staggering costs of live saving medications.
"It's literally the fact that one out of four of Americans can't afford the medicine that they need. That is a crisis. But we're talking about the reality that the high cost of prescription drugs is driving up health care costs, in America, so that we ended up spending almost twice as much per capita on health care, as the people of any other country," Sanders said. "So this is a crisis situation we cannot continue to spend so much on health care."