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Senate Democrats to Hold Hearing with Americans Hurt by High Cost of Prescription Drugs

On Tuesday, August 21st at 3:00 PM, Senate Democrats will hold a hearing titled, “America Speaks Out: The Urgent Need to Tackle Health Care Costs and Prescription Drug Prices.” The Senators will hear from Americans who have struggled with the high cost of prescription drugs, including the mother of diabetic young man who died because he could not afford insulin and an 80-year old retiree who cannot afford his Parkinson’s medication.

Nicole Smith-Holt – Richfield, MN: Nicole is a Minnesota state employee and a mother of four children from a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. One of her sons, Alec, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 24. When he turned 26, Alec was no longer eligible to remain on the family’s insurance plan and soon discovered, when he went to pick up his diabetic supplies and insulin, that his copay would be $1,300. Alec tried to ration the insulin he did have until his next paycheck, but was found dead in his apartment as a result of diabetic ketoacidosis. Her testimony may be found here.

Stahis Panagides – Bethesda, MD: Stahis is an 80-year-old retiree who lives with his wife in Maryland. Three years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. His neurologist recommended a new course of treatment, but when he found out that it would cost more than $400 per month, even with a supplemental Medicare plan, he had to refuse taking it. Though his disease is being treated with alternative therapies, Stahis was shocked that even with his coverage, he could not afford his medication. His testimony may be found here

John Glaser – Alexandria, VA: John is a retired social worker who worked for 18 years as a grassroots organizer with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. John is a current Medicare beneficiary and has been enrolled in the program for the past 14 years. His annual prescription drug costs have been in the thousands of dollars. His testimony may be found here

Marques Jones – Richmond, VA: Marques was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2008 and takes a drug that costs about $75,000 annually. Despite having robust insurance coverage, Marques’s annual out-of-pocket spending on drug co-pays and insurance premiums for his family of five is very high. This has led Marques to become a vocal advocate for those who also suffer from chronic illness. His testimony may be found here

Leigh Purvis – Director, Health Services Research, AARP Public Policy Institute: Leigh Purvis is the Director of Health Services Research in AARP’s Public Policy Institute. She is a recognized expert on prescription drug issues and coauthor of AARP Public Policy Institute’s annual Rx Price Watch reports, which track price trends for prescription drugs widely used by older Americans. Her testimony may be found here