As Americans struggle to maintain their health due to rising healthcare and prescription costs, lawmakers in Arizona and across the country are trying to find ways to bring relief through legislation.
The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 (H.R. 3) passed in the House in December, and has since moved to the Senate. Since then, a new hike in life-saving prescription costs hit Americans at the start of the new year.
Locally, lawmakers like Rep. Tom O’ Halleran (D-Ariz.) say the legislation is imperative to address “real issues impacting the American people,” and to curb the rising costs of prescription drugs that’s forcing hardworking families to choose between life-saving medication and paying the bills.
If voted into law, H.R. 3 would lower the costs of prescription drugs by allowing the negotiation of prices and capping of out-of-pocket expenses. It has an estimated savings of more than $450 billion over a decade.
Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) has yet to back the legislation. McSally has claimed to be a champion of health care – especially in the fight against pre-existing conditions – since her failed bid against Sinema in 2018. But Politifact Arizona found most of her claims on that front to be “mostly false,” and her controversial voting record from her time in both chambers of Congress threatens to plague her going into the 2020 Senate race against Captain Mark Kelly.
Her record includes:
- 2015: Voting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which safeguards patients from being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
- 2017: Voting in favor of the American Health Care Act, which would have replaced the ACA, but died in the Senate. Experts assert the legislation would not have fundamentally dealt with the “profit nature of the healthcare system,” and would not safeguard patients with pre-existing conditions.
- 2019: Voting for life-time appointments of three conservative judges who have a record of restricting women’s rights to reproductive health care.
- 2019: Voting in favor of “junk insurance” plans that would allow for health insurance companies to deny coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions.
- 2019: Co-sponsoring the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act of 2019 (S. 1416), which prevents Medicare from negotiating drug costs.
Overall, for an embattled senator who lost her bid against Sinema in 2018 and came into her current seat by appointment after Sen. John McCain’s passing in 2019, McSally faces pressure from advocacy groups like AARP to provide relief to families through effective legislation.