Senators Booker and Menendez and Prescription Drugs

Senator Booker and Senator Menendez voted in a way that hurt New Jersey people who are crippled by the cost of prescription drugs. I hope Democrats in the state will call them out for it. If not, at least this Green gubernatorial candidate has something to say…

Last night in the Senate, as steps were being taken to undercut and re-write the Affordable Care Act, there was an amendment offered up that could make one aspect of health care more affordable for Americans. We are all aware of the crippling cost of prescription drugs. We are also all too familiar with the incredible disparity between the cost of prescription drugs in Canada vs. the same drugs in the USA. The Affordable Care Act did NOT allow for prescriptions to be purchased in other countries and the problem of inflated drug prices has continued throughout the Obama years. Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Amy Klobuchar proposed an amendment that would allow U.S. customers to buy prescription drugs from Canada. Some Republicans, realizing that they are undoing Obamacare without a clue for a replacement, voted in favor of the amendment. In fact, 12 did so. But alas, 13 Democrats decided to go the other way—voting against the amendment.

Why did they do that? Senator Booker and Senator Menendez could have responded with, “I have a plan for comprehensive health care reform to replace Obamacare and so I’m not voting on piecemeal legislation—even if it’s good legislation.” But, instead, when pushed today, Booker made the “safety argument” (if we buy prescription drugs elsewhere the safety standards aren’t as high).

The thing that is a real safety hazard is that desperately poor people, and middle income people, in New Jersey, have to decide between life sustaining prescription drugs and rent, food and transportation. The high cost of prescriptions, inflated for the sake of exorbitant profit for a handful of companies, is one of American's biggest sins.

In this desperate political moment this amendment was a sign of hope. Sorry to see it squashed by New Jersey's senators.

Peace, Seth