December 6, 2023

November’s Normal Meeting elections will possible have a significant influence on how a lot Virginians spend for prescription remedy. Through each phrases and actions, Republicans and Democrats are demonstrating which facet of prescription drug affordability they’re on.

On this yr’s legislative session, Democrats within the state Senate proposed a measure establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB), which might have the facility to  impose value limits on sure medication which might be unaffordable or have excessive out-of-pocket prices.  Importantly, the board can be made up of appointees with none ties to drug corporations or producers. 

Comparable boards have been established in Maryland and Colorado, and the measure loved bipartisan assist because it handed the Senate in early February. 

However with Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the Pharmaceutical Analysis & Producers of America (PhRMA) lobbying group, the Virginia Producers Affiliation, and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce all strongly opposing the proposal, it met a swift finish in a GOP-controlled Home of Delegates subcommittee simply two weeks later.

The problem has resurfaced in races for the state Home and Senate, possible due to the proposal’s recognition: A summer season ballot from AARP discovered that 75% of Virginians assist making a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, and 60% have been extra more likely to vote for a candidate who helps this proposal.

RELATED: Virginia Voters Need Motion on Rising Drug Prices. Will Lawmakers Pay attention?

Candidates from each events assist the creation of a PDAB, in accordance with Freedom Virginia, together with 61 candidates for the Home of Delegates and 24 candidates for the Senate.

Democrat Andrea Williams Graves, working in Norfolk’s SD-21, is one candidate who’s pledged to assist the institution of such a board. 

“Too many Virginians … are scuffling with the price of drugs, and it’s previous time we do one thing about it,” she said. “Medication can’t work if individuals can’t afford it.”

In Richmond-area Home District 79, Democrat Rae Cousins additionally declared her assist for establishing a PDAB.

“For a lot too lengthy, Virginians throughout the commonwealth have skilled skyrocketing will increase in the price of their medicines, and this has resulted in too many individuals having to decide about whether or not to pay for requirements like hire, groceries, and utility payments or for his or her prescriptions,” she recently said.

“This isn’t and shouldn’t be a Democrat or Republican difficulty as a result of it impacts all of us – kids, our seniors, and our households,” Cousins continued.

Many Republicans, nonetheless, look like benefiting from their opposition to the creation of this remedy affordability board.

Simply months after Home Republicans killed the invoice establishing a board, PhRMA donated $60,000 to GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC, which is the highest donor to the Republican Occasion of Virginia this yr.

Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, who was certainly one of a handful of Senate Republicans who voted earlier this yr to kill the bipartisan measure that might have established a PDAB for Virginia, is working for reelection within the Richmond-area’s sixteenth Senate District. Over her eight years within the Senate, she has obtained over $56,000 in marketing campaign donations from the pharmaceutical trade, together with from PhRMA and drug corporations Pfizer, Gilead, Lilly, and Vertex.

This yr alone, PhRMA has donated over $140,000 to Republican legislative candidates and committees.

Contemplating its bipartisan passage within the state Senate this yr, the way forward for establishing a board to restrict prescription drug prices could hinge on which celebration wins majority management of the Home of Delegates in November. 

If Republicans win the each state Home and Senate, giving them full management of state authorities, Democrats warn that Virginians won’t solely proceed paying greater than they need to for medication, however that drug corporations may also be rewarded for donating to Republican campaigns.

“The MAGA Extremists within the Virginia GOP are hellbent on selecting tax breaks for these worthwhile companies over our Virginia households,” stated Home Democratic Chief Don Scott. “If they’re allowed complete management of the state authorities, their needs will turn into actuality. They’ll proceed to forestall laws from passing that might have saved prescription drug costs low, including undue pressure on our households.”

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood’s chief political correspondent. She can also be the nation’s foremost knowledgeable in state politics with virtually twenty years of expertise in statehouse machinations, and her comedian guide assortment might be greater than yours.