Prescriptions for the Elderly and the Underinsured

Prescriptions for the Elderly and the Underinsured (2000)

Throughout the United States, prescription drug prices are rising more rapidly than the cost of living. From 1992 to 1998, the annual cost of prescription drugs rose from $49 billion to $93 billion. Seniors and those without prescription drug coverage are subject to widespread discrimination. In other countries, many of the same prescriptions from the same manufacturers cost up to 50% less because those governments negotiate or regulate the prices.

With the increase in drug prices, many of those who are currently insured will lose that benefit because employers will be unable or unwilling to pay the escalating cost of premiums.

The pharmaceutical companies claim the high cost of new drugs is attributed to the extraordinary expenses of research and development. However, the U.S. taxpayer pays for that research and development, with the government giving large tax credits to these same companies. The pharmaceutical companies are also given exclusive patent rights on their medications, which virtually permits them to set the prices.

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism urges Congress to:

  1. Hold hearings throughout the country on prescription drug coverage and cost-cutting options;
  2. Regulate the price of prescription drugs for seniors and the uninsured, similar to those offered to HMOs, federal agencies, insurance companies, foreign countries and others;
  3. Examine the policy of tax credits to pharmaceutical companies.