Brief

Evers and Subeck pitch bipartisan plan on drug costs

By: - August 4, 2021 4:04 pm
Insulin level test conducted by an EMT for a diabetic

Insulin level test conducted by an EMT | Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

Gov. Tony Evers and Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) stood on a noisy street Wednesday afternoon in Wausau to push cheaper drugs. 

More specifically, they were advocating for a package of 13 bills they are calling “Less for Rx” that would lower costs for prescription drugs, as well as making costs more transparent, less haphazard and easier to understand for Wisconsinites. 

“When I say it’s the most comprehensive plan in state history, I’m not kidding,” Evers said at the news conference.

“We know that too many Wisconsinites are having to make tough decisions between paying their bills and getting life-saving medication,” Evers continued. “Some people are cutting their pills in half. Some people are skipping doses, rationing insulin or just not filling prescriptions because it’s a difference between paying for their medication or paying for rent.”

He highlighted some of the measures contained in the 13 bills, including putting a $50 cap on insulin, creating an Office of Prescription Drug Affordability, overseeing the pharmaceutical supply chain and lowering out-of-pocket copay costs. Other bills would create a purchasing collaboration between state and local governments, eliminate BadgerCare copayments and increase funding for free and charitable clinics by $4 million over the biennium.

“Folks, it’s time to get this done,” said Evers. “Everybody should be able to afford their medication, period.

The package of bills were all in the 2021-2023 biennial budget that Evers sent to the Legislature, which the Republicans immediately tossed aside. But Subeck and Evers stressed — repeating the word bipartisan quite a few times — that while the budget was a hasty, stripped-down document, the measures came out of the bipartisan Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices.

Subeck served on that task force and heard from many people who could not afford their medicine. The dilemma was familiar to her.

“Before I came into the Legislature, I worked with low-income women and families, and I would see families in our shelter, who would come back from a doctor’s appointment and not have filled their child’s prescription because they couldn’t afford to,” said Subeck at the news conference. “I talked to women in our low-income housing who had mental-health concerns that required medications to treat them. And when you asked why they weren’t taking their medications as they were supposed to, it was because they couldn’t afford to fill that prescription. That is shameful. No, it’s more than shameful. It’s heart wrenching.”

And, for any Republican legislators wondering, Evers will not call a special session, admitting, “that hasn’t worked out so well.” He hopes the Legislature will take up the bills when they return for the fall session.

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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.

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