Every now and then, the Indiana state legislature has the opportunity to do the right thing for the citizens of our state. One of the on-going issues in our state (and in our country) is the increasing cost of prescription drugs. An Amendment to HB 1042 currently working its way through the legislature would have capped the price of drugs to generic prices or to brand rates that match other effective drugs that are similar class drugs, among other things.
Increasing prescription drug prices have created a hardship for our senior citizens who live on a fixed income and don’t have the money to pay more for drugs that are not part of their Medicare plan B program, or where cost has increased so much that their portion of the payment is unaffordable.
This also creates hardship on working families with children or family members who have chronic illnesses that are manageable, but require ongoing access to medications like insulin, inhalers and other expensive drugs. As a teacher, I have two students who are insulin dependent. Their family experiences ongoing costs, not all of which are covered, to monitor and control their blood glucose. This also means lost work time for one parent who must be available to pick up their child from school and possibly run to the doctor or hospital if the glucose levels don’t respond to insulin dosage.
We have students with asthma who have certain times of the year that require ongoing intense treatments. We have students who are cancer patients in remission, and with MS, and brain tumors. The list goes on. These families are living on the edge of poverty, barely staying ahead of their bills when the condition requires unexpected treatment or change in prescription. And sometimes, they don’t stay ahead, and we have Go Fund Me pages, spaghetti dinners, or other fundraisers for them.
This amendment to HB could have spelled relief for many senior citizens and families who live on the edge of poverty because of expensive maintenance prescription drugs. I personally know many families who would have benefited by the amendments to this bill. It would have changed their economic outlook and given them peace of mind that they could afford to keep their child healthy.
No parent should have to wonder if they can afford to keep their children healthy and give them the opportunity to reach adulthood! But this amendment failed along party lines. Representative Soliday voted against the amendment. I think Soliday failed his constituents. I know he failed the students and their families who attend the schools I where I teach.