California Veterans Organizations Oppose Misleading Pharmaceutical Initiative, Warn It Could Increase Prescription Drug Costs for the VA and Our Nation’s Veterans

SACRAMENTO – Today, thirteen California veterans’ organizations announced their opposition to the misleading drug contracting initiative on California’s November 2016 ballot.

“America’s uniformed service members lay their lives on the line to protect our country. In recognition of their service, they are afforded certain unique benefits. This measure ignores their sacrifice. It seeks to extend the special prescription medicine discounts given to veterans to some state purchasing programs. This could increase prescription drug costs for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and ultimately for veterans, retirees and military families,” said Nick Guest, State Adjutant/Quartermaster, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) negotiates special prescription drug discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers for the benefit of veterans, retirees, active duty military and their families in recognition and appreciation of their dedicated service to our country.

The statewide ballot measure seeks to extend these special VA price considerations to some California state government purchasing programs. However, these special discounts would not be sustainable if applied to additional programs in California or other states. In fact, the VA and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have on multiple occasions warned that extending VA pricing to other sizable health care programs could undermine these special price considerations provided to those who serve our country.

“We don’t often get involved in political issues, but we believe we have to weigh-in on this measure because it could have a negative impact on veterans,” said Commander Terry McCarty of AMVETS, Department of California. “If this measure were to pass, we believe it could increase costs for the VA and, ultimately, for veterans.”

History has shown that when these special price considerations are extended to other government purchases, costs to the VA increase. After enactment of the 1990 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA), which factored VA pricing into state Medicaid rebate calculations, the GAO found that VA and U.S. Department of Defense prescription drug costs increased by tens of millions of dollars in one year. That requirement was later repealed.

“Veterans are no strangers to taking a stand for what they believe in. We oppose this measure because we believe it will hurt veterans, and we will be working to ensure that California voters understand its negative consequences,” said Steve Mackey, President of Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council. “We urge all California veterans to vote NO on this measure in November.”

Veterans’ organizations that have opposed the Misleading Rx Measure include:

  • Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California

  • American Legion, Department of California

  • Military Officers Association of America, California Council of Chapters

  • AMVETS, Department of California

  • Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council

  • American GI Forum of California

  • Jewish War Veterans of America, Department of California

  • Reserve Officer Association, Department of the Golden West

  • Fleet Reserve Association, West Coast Region

  • Association of the United States Army, Northern California

  • Military Order of the Purple Heart, Department of California

  • Paralyzed Veterans of America, Bay Area & Western Chapter

  • Scottish American Military Society