"LORD, RELIEVE US FROM THOSE THAT SEEK TO HELP US" - Prescription Drug Relief Becomes A Placebo


Just when you think state legislators are remembering their constituents, like getting relief from high drug prices, they cave-in to all those drug lobbyists who conversely scare them and treat them well with lots of "treats" in the rotunda and around town.

There appeared to be more drug company lobbyists than members of the State Senate a couple weeks ago.

A highly diluted drug relief bill will likely be passed, which calls for more study and offers several drug industry sponsored measures.

When legislators don't want to do something, they study it more, in this case a 15-member panel of studiers.

The winners are not West Virginia citizens, who pay the highest percentage of their earned income on prescription drugs than any state in the US, in fact, seventy percent higher than the US average.

The original proposal was to link state purchases of drugs to the highly discounted Federal Supply Schedule, saving West Virginia consumers over $500 million a year.

The lobbyists had convinced veteran's groups the state's proposal would raise their drug discounts, and the vets were swarming in the rotunda. It would have had no effect on the benefits of veterans.

The original bill had some real teeth and would have helped consumers.

It has been amended to death - "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

The state Senate's version calls for creating a $1 million clearinghouse (paid by the drug companies), likely a web site, to let consumers known what breaks on prices are available. It calls for the drug companies to voluntarily lower prices.

Delegates and Senators backed off the bill, saying the consumer measure will be in court for years, noting the drug companies will sue, sue, sue.

Maybe the state could follow the Bush administrations lead in helping seniors pay for their prescriptions, just ante up the full price to the drug company (the new Medicare benefit) and add the cost to the state's debt.

Maybe Governor Wise will veto all the helpful consumer legislation this year, including the one law that allows insurance companies to cancel their policyholders "at will."

Maybe prayer would help.

"Lord relieve us from those that seek to help us," might be appropriate.