(Host) With a sharp rise in Medicare premiums, Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders is renewing his call for action by the U.S. Senate on prescription drug re-importation.
Melinda Wittstock has more from VPR’s Capitol Hill Bureau.
(Wittstock) Juanita Farkas is an 80-year old breast cancer survivor who must take 14 pills a day to stay healthy. Her prescription drug bill in the U.S. was $800 a month.
(Farkas) “I had a choice to make that no one should ever have to face: go into debt paying for my medication, or not taking all my life-saving prescription drugs.”
(Wittstock) Then she started buying her drugs in Canada where the same prescriptions cost $160. She told her story here at the U.S. Capitol with a bipartisan group of congressmen, including Vermont independent Bernie Sanders.
(Sanders) “For Juanita and millions of other Americans, this is not an abstract issue. This is a question of life and death.”
(Wittstock) Despite the political bitterness of the election year, Sanders says re-importing safe medicines from Canada is something politicians from both sides of the aisle could agree on.
(Sanders) “Conservative Republicans, liberal and moderate Democrats and independents have all stood together and said, We’ve got to stop the prescription drug rip-off of the American people.”
(Wittstock) There are enough votes in the U.S. Senate to legalize prescription drug re-importation, that is if the GOP Senate leadership lives up to its promise and allows a vote before the October recess.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Melinda Wittstock on Capitol Hill.