Press Releases

September 21, 2021

Retirees Urge Sen. Sinema Not to Turn Her Back on Arizona Seniors

The following statement was issued by Saundra Cole, President of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding media  reports that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema opposes President Biden’s plan to lower prescription drug costs and will not support a reconciliation bill if the House delays its scheduled Sept. 27 vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan — or if the vote fails.

“The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and its more than 48,000 members are deeply troubled by reports of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to legislation that would dramatically improve the health and economic security of more than 1.2 million older Arizonans and their families.

“Time and again Sen. Sinema has assured us that she cares about the challenges facing older Arizonans, but if media reports from Washington are correct, her actions tell a different story. We are urging her to represent us constituents by working to lower drug prices, and strengthen long-term care by allowing more seniors to receive the care they need at home, rather than an institution.

“For seniors, the centerpiece of President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan is lowering drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical corporations. Americans pay the highest price in the world for prescription drugs, and one in four older Americans reports being unable to take a prescription as their doctor prescribed due to cost.

“Allowing Medicare to sit at the negotiating table is the kind of common-sense solution that we expected Sen. Sinema to support. The Department of Veterans Affairs, the Defense Department and Medicaid all negotiate for lower drug prices now, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. Medicare was expressly prohibited from doing so in the 2003 legislation that created the Part D prescription drug program. Since then the pharmaceutical corporations have increased the prices of drugs far beyond the rate of inflation, reaped enormous profits, and received billions from the U.S. government to fund the development of new drugs and treatments.

“Her position would also prevent Medicare from adding dental, hearing and vision benefits with the savings.

“No single issue has more bipartisan support than Medicare prescription drug price negotiation, something that Senator Sinema has stressed the need for time and again. The Alliance’s recent poll of voters age 65 and above found that an 87% majority of voters over age 65 favor allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. This is an issue that helps patients and taxpayers while bringing Americans together, and failing to act will only increase the cynicism too many Americans have about Washington’s ability to deliver for American families.

“In addition to lowering prescription drug prices, the Budget Reconciliation bill will also allow more Americans to receive the long-term care services they need at home, rather than a nursing home. This will save taxpayer dollars, allow family caregivers to better balance their responsibilities, keep seniors healthier, and improve the quality of life for older and disabled Americans.

“We call on Senator Sinema to refute these media reports, and pledge to work to lower drug prices and strengthen retirement security for all Arizonans. We deserve nothing less from our senator.”

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Contact: Dora Vasquez,  retirees@azaflcio.org

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