SACRAMENTO – As we turn the corner into the fall campaign season, the No on Prop 61 campaign announced today that more than 130 groups have come out in strong opposition to the measure. New groups opposing Prop 61 include influential physicians and patient advocacy organizations such as the California Association of Neurological Surgeons, California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, California Urological Association and the Medical Oncology Association of Southern California.
“We treat Californians with extremely grave neurological conditions and patients who cannot afford to wait for needed medications,” said Dr. Praveen Mummaneni, President, California Association of Neurological Surgeons. “We oppose Prop 61 because it imposes new bureaucratic hurdles that will interfere with some patients getting the medicines they need.”
These groups join the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California; Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council; California Medical Association; California Taxpayers Association; State Building & Construction Trades Council of California and other veterans, patient advocacy, labor, business, taxpayer, civil rights and seniors groups also opposed.
BACKGROUND ON PROP 61 AND THE ORGANIZATION FUNDING IT
Proposition 61 is opposed by a broad coalition of more than 130 organizations representing patient advocates, doctors, clinics, veterans, businesses, labor unions and many others who warn this deceptive, deeply-flawed scheme would be bad for patients, harmful for veterans and expensive for taxpayers.
The measure would impose unworkable contracting requirements for some state prescription drug purchases based on prices paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Independent experts warn the measure could increase state prescription drug costs, while reducing patient access to medicines.
The controversial author and promoter of Prop 61 – who is president of an organization that brought in more than $1 billion last year selling prescription drugs and operating HMOs – exempted his own organization from having to comply with the measure.
The California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS), the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), and HIV and hepatitis C advocacy groups have raised significant concerns about this flawed initiative:
- The Legislative Analyst Office’s May 10 report to the legislature says: “The measure could endanger the supplemental rebates that (the State Department of Health Care Services) DHCS collects from drug manufacturers… In such circumstances, the measure could raise DHCS spending on prescription drugs.” (page 10).
- In the Legislative Analyst Office’s July 18 full analysis that will appear in the voter pamphlet, the LAO noted again the significant fiscal “uncertainty,” and reiterated the possibility the state could pay higher drug costs in the Medi-Cal fee-for-service program. (page 9)
- A June 14 CalPERS staff analysis warns the measure could result in:
- “Increased drug prices for the VA, instead of decreased prices for CalPERS and other California state entities as intended”
- “Decreased access to certain drugs for CalPERS members”
- “Potential challenges for CalPERS to comply with the law’s requirements in a complete and timely manner”
- “Increased administrative costs” (page 5)
- Project Inform, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, AIDS Project Los Angeles and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, groups serving people living with and affected by HIV and hepatitis C, are officially neutral on the ballot measure but have raised concerns about the initiative. In a policy paper analyzing the measure, they raise red flags:
- “The initiative does not include any provisions that would lower the cost of prescription drugs for consumers”
- “It is unclear whether the initiative would result in cost savings to the state”
- “This initiative could actually increase the price of drugs in a number of public programs, including (AIDS Drug Assistance Program) ADAP, Medi-Cal, the VA, and California’s prison system”
CONTROVERSIAL PROMOTER EXEMPTED HIS GROUP FROM PROP 61’s PROVISIONS
Michael Weinstein, the controversial promoter behind Prop 61, runs the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which in 2015 brought in more than $1 billion in revenue including $800 million from prescription drug sales. AHF also operates a Medi-Cal managed care plan in California called PHC or Positive Healthcare California. Yet, the proponent specifically exempted Medi-Cal managed care plans from the provisions of Prop 61.
And in four separate government audits, his organization was found to have overcharged Los Angeles County by more than $6 million. In addition, his organization is currently suing the state so it can charge more for prescription drugs.
For more information on Prop 61, go to www.noprop61.com