Protect Our Care Releases New Report As Part of Lower Rx Summer

Today, Protect Our Care is releasing a new report as part of Week 6 of Lower Rx Summer underscoring how high drug costs hurt Latinos and Hispanic people. Throughout the week, Protect Our Care will host events and release additional research showing the urgency for reform to bring down drug prices for people of color. 

In June, Protect Our Care announced Lower Rx Summer as part of The Campaign to Reduce Drug Prices. Lower Rx Summer consists of themed weeks of action to demonstrate the urgent need for legislation to lower drug prices principally by giving Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices for all Americans. 

Remaining Theme Weeks for Lower Rx Summer

Week 6 (July 12): How High Drug Prices Hurt People of Color

Week 7 (July 19): How High Drug Prices Hurt Small Businesses

Week 8 (July 26): How High Drug Prices Hurt Children

Week 9 (August 2): Expanding Medicare Benefits—Hearing, Vision, And Dental

Racial inequity is pervasive within the American health care system, and high prescription drug costs are no exception. Nearly 30 percent of individuals taking prescription medication struggle to afford the cost, with the burden most severely impacting those who make less than $40,000 a year and have medication costs over $100. These factors disproportionately impact Hispanic and Latino individuals, who are more likely to require medications for chronic health conditions and earn household median incomes nearly $20,000 less than non-Hispanic white counterparts, resulting in reduced ability to pay at the pharmacy counter. 

“Structural racism has led to Hispanic and Latino people being disproportionately burdened by high drug prices in the United States,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “It is unconscionable that millions of people can’t afford the drugs they need to survive. Bringing down the cost of drugs is an essential step in addressing racial inequities in health care and helping communities recover from the pandemic. It’s time for lawmakers to put an end to Big Pharma’s greed and give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices.”

In 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), historic legislation that would lower drug prices for all Americans. H.R. 3 would save patients over $150 billion and reduce the price of the costliest drugs by as much as 55 percent

Not only does giving Medicare the power to negotiate help patients at the pharmacy counter, but it would save the federal government $500 billion, which could be reinvested to strengthen health care. These savings could help lower premiums, expand coverage, and strengthen Medicare benefits to include hearing, vision, and dental. As the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring access to affordable health care, and specifically prescription drugs, has never been more critical. 

KEY POINTS

  • Income and health coverage inequity disproportionately harm Hispanic and Latino people. Hispanic and Latino individuals are more likely to have a lower median income and live in a state without Medicaid expansion, compared with their white counterparts. These disparities have profound impacts on health outcomes for Hispanic and Latino people that result in reduced ability to access lifesaving drugs with tragic results.
  • Hispanic and Latino people are regularly forced to navigate chronic health conditions with reduced access to needed drugs. Compounding social, economic, and political forces make Hispanic and Latino individuals more likely to suffer from ongoing health issues and be faced with outrageous medication prices. Inequitable drug access due to cost, creates additional medical problems that disproportionately impact Hispanic and Latino individuals. 
  • Drug pricing reform is crucial in addressing racial health disparities. Hispanic and Latino individuals are significantly more likely to be uninsured than their white counterparts, pushing up the cost of prescription drugs in a country that is already paying nearly three times what individuals in other countries are spending on the same drugs. Wealth and health disparities perpetuated by systemic racism increase the strain of drug costs for Hispanic and Latino people.

Read the new report on how high drug costs hurt Hispanic and Latino people here.