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Sen. Raphael Warnock hosts East Point roundtable on high prescription costs

EAST POINT, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Local senior citizens and health care providers met with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) on Friday for a discussion on high drug costs. Warnock briefed them on his proposed legislation to cap those costs and put some of the burden on drug manufacturers.

East Point resident Jackie Robinson knows all too well about high prescription drug costs and making tough decisions.

"The carrier called to say that the prescription drug plan was going to be $85 a month. That put me in a position of having to look at my fixed income," she said, noting that some senior citizens face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs a month, and with fixed incomes, can't afford to fill their prescriptions. "I have friends who have loved ones that are paying $15,000 a month."

Robinson and other seniors shared their concerns with Warnock at a roundtable at Oak Street Health in East Point. He discussed his Capping Drug Costs For Seniors Act which would cap those costs at $2,000 a year.

"Right now, we've got more than a million seniors who pay over that in out-of-pocket costs just to afford the medicine that they need," Warnock said.

Health care providers say seniors who can't afford their prescriptions often delay taking them or stop taking them altogether.

"By the time we are able to see them and care for them, there has already been damage done," said Dr. Anita Varkey, an internal medicine specialist at Oak Street Health.

The legislation would also put more of the cost burden on drug manufacturers.

"I'm working to get this legislation over the finish line as soon as possible, as well as legislation that would allow Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices," said Warnock. "People are really feeling the pinch. They're feeling it at the pump, with groceries. I'm trying to hold greedy corporations, whether they are pharmaceutical companies or oil and gas companies, accountable."

Warnock said he planned to meet with diabetes advocates on Monday to discuss his bipartisan legislation to cap insulin costs.

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