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Expanding the Oregon Prescription Drug Purchasing Pool

SB 329 and SB 505 would expand the purchasing pool.
Profile of Prescription Pool Expansion: Businesses want to jump in the pool, too

"It is a matter of coming to the table and seeing what can be negotiated for all Oregonians including private businesses."
Lynn Lundquist, Oregon Business Association

Tuesday, the Oregon Prescription Drug Purchasing Pool opened to individuals. An article in the Eugene Register Guard on Wednesday about the program prompted over 200 Oregonians to call our office and request an application. They were excited and grateful the state was negotiating with drug companies on their behalf.

Business, labor, faith organizations and individual Oregonians testified last week at a hearing on SB 329, to expand the purchasing pool. Testimony in support included: Lynn Lundquist, President of the Oregon Business Association, Tim Nesbitt, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO, Erin Kelly-Siel with Governor Kulongoski's office, Rick Bennett with AARP, Maribeth Healey with Oregonians for Health Security, Oregonians Joy Willman, Channah Pastorious, and Joe Mahoney.

The only testimony in opposition was from PhRMA, the drug companies' lobbyist. Another public hearing and work session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8 at 3 PM.

Expanding the prescription drug purchasing program to include all Oregonians without prescription drug coverage and private businesses, Taft-Hartley trusts and other purchasers will increase the size of the pool and increase the anticipated savings. The state will benefit by increased savings for state agencies participating in the program.

The interest in the program demonstrates a need for expansion. Many of the individuals interested did not meet the narrow criteria. According to a NFIB member survey, small businesses say the cost of health care is their top concern. Allowing businesses to participate in the program will be good economic development for Oregon.

Some of the Oregonians who called our office last week did meet the age requirement, but earn a little too much. They still have unaffordable prescription drugs. One of the phone calls we received was from a couple in Junction City. They spent $4000 a year on prescription drugs, but with social security and the money they earned from their small farm they were over the gross income limit. SB 505, the other Rx pool expansion bill would help this couple.

From Joe in Beaverton, to Catherine Ison in Roseburg to Bob and Carol Biddle in Pendleton, Oregonians need help affording their prescription drugs. The Prescription Drug Purchasing Program is the kind of help they are seeking. Answering the phone in our office has been very rewarding. We hear the excitement and relief in callers' voices. Expanding the pool will bring relief from the high cost of prescriptions to more Oregonians and businesses.

Click here for an OPDP application form.  http://egov.oregon.gov/DAS/OHPPR/OPDP/docs/application.pdf

If you are not currently eligible, but are interested click here.  link to www.oregoniansforhealthsecurity.org

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Important Town Halls in Coming Weeks

Saturday, March 12
10 AM- Senator Monnes Anderson, Speaker Minnis and Representative Lim, Gresham, call 503-655-2793 for details.

9:30-11:30- Senator Shields, Representative Merkley and Schaufler, Earl Boyles Elementary School Library 10822 SE Bush

Wednesday, March 23, 6 PM, Senate President Courtney and Representative Komp, Woodburn Public Library, 280 Garfield Street

Thursday, March 24, 7 PM,
Senator Burdick and Representative Galizio, Tigard Library, 13125 SW Hall Blvd.

Representative Riley, Cornelius City Hall 1355 N Barlow Street

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Growth in out-of-pocket personal health care spending accelerated to 7.6 percent in 2003, up from 6.0 percent between 2001 and 2002.
-- Health Affairs, February 23, 2005

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Oregonians for Health Security
9813 SE Hwy 212 Clackamas, OR 97015
(503) 655-2793 (503) 655-2879 fax
 http://www.oregoniansforhealthsecurity.org