Arthritis Foundation Backs Legislation to Cap Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs - Bill Provides Access to Drugs That Help Prevent Disability for People with Arthritis

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A new bill supported by the Arthritis Foundation and introduced by Sen. John. D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) aims to make expensive medications more affordable to many Americans. The Affordable Access to Prescription Medications Act of 2009 would cap monthly out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, including medications that help prevent disability in people with arthritis.

We strongly believe that legislative action is necessary to guarantee quality, affordable, essential health care for all Americans and recommend this issue be incorporated into current health care reform proposals.

A new bill supported by the Arthritis Foundation and introduced by Sen. John. D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) aims to make expensive medications more affordable to many Americans. The Affordable Access to Prescription Medications Act of 2009 would cap monthly out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, including medications that are critical to the health and quality of life for people with arthritis.

As more insurers move vital medications onto what is referred to as a specialty tier for medications over $600 a month, prescription drugs necessary to maintain health and prevent disability are becoming out of reach. For insured people with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, a co-payment of 20 to 35 percent could amount to hundreds of dollars a month per prescription. Without cheaper alternatives to disease-modifying therapies, individuals unable to afford co-payments may go without crucial medications that could slow the progression of the disease and prevent future disability.

The Affordable Access to Prescription Medications Act would help control monthly out-of-pocket costs for medications by creating a monthly cap of $200 per person for any one prescription, and a $500 per person cap for all prescriptions in any given month. These caps apply to all public and private insurance coverage, including Medicare prescription drug plans, and will reduce costs for the most vulnerable populations by more than 50 percent.

"The Arthritis Foundation applauds Sen. Rockefeller for his leadership in protecting Americans from the risk of incurring extraordinarily high out-of-pocket expenses, particularly those affected by a disability or a chronic disease like arthritis," said Amy Melnick, chief public policy officer for the Arthritis Foundation. "We strongly believe that legislative action is necessary to guarantee quality, affordable, essential health care for all Americans and recommend this issue be incorporated into current health care reform proposals."

Arthritis is a painful and life-altering disease that affects one in five people, and it is the nation's most common cause of disability. Studies show that out-of-pocket costs are rising faster for arthritis than for many other chronic conditions. In fact, a 2007 study showed that 28 percent of working-age adults with chronic conditions such as arthritis reported that their families had trouble paying medical bills. Of those, 56 percent failed to get prescription medications because of cost concerns. These unmet needs are putting people with arthritis at greater risk for complications and permanent disability.

The Arthritis Foundation supports health care reform that will improve the lives of people with arthritis and other chronic diseases. For more information about the Arthritis Foundation's position on health care reform and to learn what you can do to help yourself and others, visit http://www.arthritis.org/access-to-healthcare.

About the Arthritis Foundation
The Arthritis Foundation is the leading health organization addressing the needs of some 46 million Americans living with arthritis, the nation's most common cause of disability. Founded in 1948, with headquarters in Atlanta, the Arthritis Foundation has multiple service points located throughout the country.

The Arthritis Foundation is the largest private, not-for-profit contributor to arthritis research in the world, funding more than $400 million in research grants since 1948. The foundation helps individuals take control of arthritis by providing public health education; pursuing public policy and legislation; and conducting evidence-based programs to improve the quality of life for those living with arthritis. Information is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-283-7800 or http://www.arthritis.org.

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Carol Galbreath
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