Friday, November 04, 2005

No on 78; Yes on 79

The fact that I feel compelled to write about these two propositions concurrently is exactly the reason for Proposition 78's existence: to confuse the issue.

Both propositions purport to offer the possibility of reduced drug prices to Californians, the key differences are these:

Prop 78 would offer lower cost drugs to fewer Californians and would be entirely voluntary on the part of pharmaceutical companies.

Prop 79 would offer lower cost drugs to more Californians and would, in effect, be mandatory.

But those are just words, the real differences between the two propositions are very clear when you look at their sponsors:

Prop 78: The Governator, Pharmaceutical industry

Prop 79: AARP, California Consumers union, League of Women Voters, labor unions.

You should also know that big pharma is spending $80 million to confuse you into either a) support prop 78 and oppose 79; or (even better) oppose both as too confusing to sort out.

Scare tactics aside, big pharma knows that the California market (5th or 6th largest economy in the world, depending on how its measured) is too big for them to opt out of, even if they have to provide deep discounts to do so. They are therefore terrified of prop 79 which threatens to (gasp) slightly trim their profit margins!

My take is that while prop 79 only addresses a part of the health care price crisis facing the stae as well as the nation, it's definitely a step in the right direction. Why, for heaven's sake, should Californians not use our state's enormous buying power to cut a better deal?



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