FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2002
Contact: Rep. Roy Takumi
Phone: (808) 586-6170
HAWAII Rx DRUG PLAN HINGES ON CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
A novel program that leverages the State's buying power to bring down prices for prescription drugs has passed through both the House and Senate. House Bill 2834 is currently pending House-Senate conference committee. According to the bill's author, Representative Roy Takumi (D- Pearl City, Waipahu), the State's initiative to cut the cost of prescription drugs in Hawaii is garnering much support from local residents.
Community support for this issue is inundating the Capitol in the form of petitions and phone calls urging both the Governor and Legislature to pass this much needed legislation. A broad base of advocates including senior citizen groups, health care groups, unions, and religious organizations, have been closely following the bill throughout the session. Patterned after the "Maine Rx Program," House Bill 2834 would create a similar "Hawaii Rx Program" which would allow all Hawaii residents without drug coverage to purchase drugs at a significantly lower price. The State would negotiate prices with drug manufacturing companies, buying in bulk, the same way that Costco and HMSA are able to pass on the savings to Hawaii residents.
"There are about 228,000 uninsured people in Hawaii, including 70,000 elderly and disabled who lack outpatient drug coverage under Medicare," said Takumi. "As a result, we have some very sick individuals who have to forgo needed medication in order to buy food and other necessities. As a community, we cannot turn our backs on them."
The original measure sailed through the House unamended, while in Senate committee, the bill was revised. The bill is currently in conference committee. "It will be up to the conferees to reach a compromise, but the bottom line is we need to get this law on the books so we can start reducing the high cost of prescription drugs for the residents of Hawaii," said Takumi. Representatives Dennis Arakaki, Bertha Kawakami, Scott Saiki, Barbara Marumoto, and Bud Stonebraker will join Takumi as the House conferees on this measure.
Takumi concluded, "like the major oil companies in Hawaii, pharmaceutical companies donít want anything to interfere with their ability to make incredible profits at the expense of Hawaii consumers. With the Senate's concurrence, that is about to change---big time."
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