"Underwood wants to hire a person in every county to help seniors seek
"I come at the problem differently," he said in August after his annual
Senior Citizens Convention in Charleston.
"Drug company prices are simply too high and no one is
Wise said he wants to negotiate a deal with pharmaceutical companies to
give West Virginia seniors the same discounts health-care facilities,
insurance companies and other large organizations receive.
"Maine and Massachusetts have passed laws saying they will pool our
Medicare recipients in order to receive discounts. We should be doing the
Wise's campaign spokesman, Mike Plante, added, "He'll do it by sitting
down with the drug companies and holding their feet to the fire to
get better drug prices."
Plante said Wise has not said what he would do if the drug
companies refuse to negotiate.
"All I can say is that he is willing to play hardball, but a good
Wise's record in Congress is consistent with his promise to not hand
out favors to insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
He voted against a Republican-backed bill last year to provide
prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries that was
based on Medigap private insurance policies. Many other Democrats also
voted against the bill, saying the proposal did not apply to all Medicare
According to the National Teachers Federation the bill contained no
effective control over rising drugcosts and allowed
insurers to exclude expensive drugs and eliminate entire geographic areas
Congress is expected to vote on another Medicare prescription
drug program by the end of the year.
Mountain Party candidate Denise Giardina says the state needs to look
at ways to make prescription drugs affordable for the working poor,
In a telephone interview with the Gazette last month, she said, "I
don't see the administration doing anything about that."
She said Underwood's recent cash awards to area senior centers for
prescription drug assistance is like "putting your finger in the
Giardina also criticized Wise's plan. "He's saying he'll negotiate, but
he's not giving any specifics."
Giardina said negotiating with the drug manufacturers requires
using "a big stick" and would work only if the threat of price controls
was used as an incentive.
She said she favors pressuring Congress to allow states the ability to
purchase American-made drugs from other countries. These drugs are often
cheaper than the same drugs sold in the United States.
"We should be looking at ways for people to band together as a
purchasing block to buy prescription drugs," she
be helping people do that."
Libertarian Bob Myers believes in a cyber solution to high drug
costs. He recommends that people buy from the Internet.
"I believe in free markets," Myers told the Gazette in an interview in
September. "It's the government that has caused the high cost of drugs.
The FDA's unreasonable bureaucracy has driven up the price."
Myers said that the Internet is a competitive market tool that
consumers should use. "Anybody can order prescription drugs over the
Internet at a reduction in cost of 20 percent to 25 percent."
Those who do not have home computers or access to the Internet can go
to a public library, Myers
have computers with access to the Internet, or they are getting them
Myers did not outline a specific plan for seniors who are unable to use
computers or cannot afford to buy medications, even from the Internet.
"There may be cases where people just don't have the money for drugs and
that could be handled by another program, but by and large the free market
will take care of everything."
To contact staff writer Martha Leonard, use e-mail or call 348-1254.