The Issues Facing Working Californians
PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS
Everyday Americans are suffering as the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs soar. Americans are paying more and more for needed, life-saving medications. For example, the average retail price for insulin rose 54% in just 5 years from 2014 to 2019 (GoodRx, 1/26/22) and in the past decade, insulin prices have tripled (verywellhealth, 3/10/22). Humalog, a common brand of insulin that cost $21 in 1996 when it was first introduced, now costs $275 per vial (Washington Post, 12/13/21). Drug prices overall have increased 35% since 2014 (Healthcare Finance, 2/11/22).
Because of the exorbitant increase in drug prices, Americans can’t afford medications that are absolutely crucial to their health and wellbeing. About 30% of adults don’t take prescribed medications because of the cost (KFF, 4/5/22). 25% of Americans with diabetes ration their insulin (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 1/1/20) and over 2.3 million Medicare beneficiaries didn’t get needed prescriptions due to cost 2019 (ASPE— Office of Health Policy Report, 1/19,22). These outrageous price hikes on prescription medication are causing major harm to the health of so many Americans.
The Build Back Better Act would have addressed this issue by letting Medicare negotiate for lower prescription drug prices and charging drug companies a fee if they increase prices faster than inflation. Similarly, the Affordable Insulin Now Act would have helped mitigate harm by capping the cost of insulin at $35.
Congressman David Valadao voted against these measures to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
CORPORATIONS ARE RAISING PRICES AND MAKING RECORD PROFITS
Americans are struggling under the weight of rising prices and middle-class wages that just aren’t keeping up. The cost of everyday goods has increased by 8.6% over the past year, including a 10.1% in food and a 48.7% increase in gas over the past 12 months (Consumer Price Index Summary, May, 2022). While prices rise and wages fail to keep up, working Americans are struggling to afford basic items.
While large corporations raise prices on their products, they’re also walking away with record profits. As of March 2022, the median net profits of 100 U.S. corporations were up by 49% and in one case by an astounding 111,000% (The Guardian, 4/27/22). During the pandemic, U.S. companies posted their biggest profit growth in decades while jacking up prices. In 2021, corporate profits increased 37%, more than any other time since 1948 (Fortune, 3/31/22). While massive corporations raise prices on our necessities and rake in record profits, middle-class Americans are working overtime just to keep up.
The Build Back Better Act would have provided relief to working families by lowering costs across the board – including lowering the cost of child care and pre-K, utility bills, prescription drugs and health care premiums. It would have made large corporations pay their fair share in taxes by imposing a 15% minimum tax on the biggest companies and a tax on stock buybacks. It also would have charged drug companies a fee if they increased prices faster than inflation and imposed a surtax on the incomes of multi-millionaires and billionaires. The Build Back Better Act could have saved the median California family $12,750 per year (Third Way, 12/1/21).