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Californians win with drug pricing bill

In the last 10 years, the cost of an EpiPen, a device to inject medication to counter life-threatening allergic reactions, rose by 500 percent.

The HIV and AIDS treatment, Daraprim, went from $18 a pill to $750. Another drug, which is 62 years old, experienced a 4,000-percent price increase overnight. These are just a few examples of major drug price increases in recent years.

I spoke with many of my constituents about their needs for stable and affordable prescription drugs. Prescription drug prices are one of the biggest drivers of increased health care costs and insurance premiums. With every new price hike, Californians have less money for other necessary items. Seniors on fixed incomes are especially burdened by unexpected increases in the prices of their medications.

Fortunately, this year the Legislature passed a law to require a 60-day notice for large price increases and require an explanation for the higher costs. Under this new law, if the cost of medication will rise by more than 16 percent over two years, drug companies must notify health insurers and Medi-Cal of the price change at least 60 days before it occurs. If a drug company fails to report the change, the state can issue heavy fines.

This will ensure greater transparency and adequate notice of significant price increases. Greater transparency should in turn increase competition, allow health plans and consumers to plan and budget, and ultimately hold down prices on vital medications like the EpiPen.

This battle for transparency was not easily won. It took an alliance of businesses, insurers, health organizations, consumer and labor advocates working together to win bipartisan support for the bill. This victory represents how we can unite in a common cause to protect people, and I was proud to play a part in ensuring the bill’s passage.

We have much more work to do to make our health-care system more consumer and patient-centered, but this is an important step in the right direction.

Jordan Cunningham

35th District Assemblyman

Lompoc needs to address homeless services

So with all the uproar about Lompoc homeless in the city and the community of transients in the riverbed, I've gathered that services are needed to address this problem.

Our problem is the services in Lompoc are lacking. The shelters that are in place, with huge incomes and grants, in the tens of millions, should step it up and do their job. Stop housing and slum sheltering just to fill a bed for profit, then kick them back out on the streets, doing nothing for the communities but profit. Draining other resources and kind hearts to provide clothing, meals, and resources because they won't spend some of their millions to help curb the problem is affecting everyone else.

Is anyone willing to address the problem at the core and stop blaming the homeless for a cycle they have been stuck in due to lack of effort by the shelter system? 

Brad Jones