Clinton proposes prescription drug cap: Will it rally cash-strapped voters?

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton defends Obamacare and proposes changes to the prescription drug industry after her main Democratic challenger proposed a plan for healthcare reform. 

Lee Celano/Reuters
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton raises her arms after speaking to a grassroots organizing meeting at the Louisiana Leadership Institute in Baton Rouge, La., Monday. The former secretary of State is expected to unveil sweeping proposal to rein in prescription drug costs.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will try to rally voters Tuesday with a plan to build on President Obama's reforms for health insurance by altering the way drug companies do business.

Mrs. Clinton plans to tell voters in Iowa about her plan for a $250 monthly cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. She wants the government to stop allowing drug companies to deduct what they spend to market new drugs. The marketing of new drugs directly to consumers has increased as the former practice of advertising directly to prescribing doctors has become more tightly regulated in recent years.

"It is time to deal with sky-rocketing out-of-pocket costs," Clinton said Monday during a campaign stop in Little Rock, Ark., according to Reuters.

Clinton's announcement comes just after the pharmaceutical company Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent, reports the BBC. Daraprim is frequently prescribed to AIDS patients. The pill costs $1 to produce, but the company has raised the cost of a dose from $13.50 to $750 to help pay for costs in marketing and distribution.

Clinton's campaign claims large prescription drug companies make larger profit margins than other industries. Her campaign targets consumers of prescription drugs, because a senior on Medicare spends $500 each year out of pocket on prescription drugs and patients with long-term illnesses can spend thousands, her campaign claims. 

Clinton is presenting her plan for further health care reform after her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) of Vermont, has advanced his own outline. 

Clinton's proposed new regulations include prohibiting "pay-for-delay agreements," in which a brand-name drug pays a generic competitor to stay out of the market for a period of time longer that what is required by the US Food and Drug Administration. Clinton also wants Medicare, the US government program to insure the elderly signed into law by President Johnson in 1965, to start using its clout to negotiate down drug prices as it already does with regular office visit costs, and to allow consumers to buy drugs from other countries.

Clinton places her new plan to alter the prescription drug industry squarely on the foundation of Obama's health care reform, which she defended in a campaign visit to Louisiana Monday as she criticized the state's governor, Bobby Jindal.

"He put ideology ahead of the well-being of the people and the families in this state," Clinton said, according to the Associated Press.

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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