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Health

AARP Wisconsin is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would lower prescription drug costs

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Nancy Koch is a retired nurse in Wauwatosa.

“I have an auto-immune degenerative illness that could one day land me in a wheelchair,” said Cook. She’s steadily been on medication that staves off that possibility.

One of the medications, the only one of its kind, used to cost her nothing with her insurance.

This year, it went up to $124 a month.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but on limited income, it’s a lot. I simply can’t afford that. For now, I’ve been charging it but that’s not going to be sustainable much longer,” she said.

Karen Justeson is in a similar situation.

She found a drug that helped her control her diabetes, but it quickly became too expensive even on her insurance and says her income is just over the threshold for any drug assistance programs.

“I believe that my story is probably very common. It’s not just the uninsured and the low-income people who experience difficulty with the high cost of prescription medications,” said Justeson.

Justeson and Koch joined AARP Wisconsin’s Advocacy Director Lisa Lamkins and Senator Tammy Baldwin Thursday for a news conference urging U.S. lawmakers to pass legislation that would lower drug costs.

One bill that passed the House in November would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, put a cap on out-of-pocket costs, and impose penalties on drug companies that raise prices faster than the rate of inflation.

Sen. Badlwin says she supports this and other legislation that would lower drug costs.

“We have to lower costs for working families who should no longer be at the mercy of these big pharmaceutical companies,” said Baldwin.

Some of these companies argue they need to raise the costs of the drugs they do sell in order to further their research into new and more advance drugs.

“Medicines don’t work if people can’t afford them. So I think it’s really a false narrative to say that pharma needs all of this excess profit in order to be able to continue making new drugs,” AARP Wisconsin Advocacy Director Lisa Lamkins.

More than 126,000 Wisconsinites signed a petition to urge Congress to act now and pass legislation to lower prescription drugs costs. They joined more than four million others AARP collected to send to lawmakers.

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