With proposals to cap drug costs stalled, clinics say help still needed

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 5:49 PM CST
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - As President Joe Biden says his hopes for the Build Back Better program are stalled, so is the hope to cap some drug prices.

That is one of the provisions with the proposal. It is something those who work around health care say there is a need for.

There are a lot of people in the Central Texas area who need help paying for drug costs, particularly when it comes to things like insulin.

“When we saw the pandemic happen it just amazed us how many patients, how many individuals who really needed health care services,” said Taneika Moultrie, executive director of the Greater Killeen Community Clinic.

Moultrie helps run a program that provides free prescriptions for uninsured patients.

Most of those who use the Prescription Assistance Program need it to help pay for insulin.

“The downside of it is, if they don’t see it at a reduced cost, they can’t afford it, they won’t take it,” said Moultrie.

The clinic works with regional entities to secure vials. There is a healthy supply now, but that is not always the case.

“We compare the cost with local pharmacies, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS,” said Moultrie. “And to look at that cost and to say, it’s $250 or it’s $400 or it’s $600.”

That is why she is hopeful for the caps on drug costs, so it can help those she works with.

But mixing economics and medicine gets complicated.

“Our demand for more and more medicine with lower side effects and better treatment outcomes always are going to drive the prices up going forward,” said Rob Tennant, assistant professor of accounting and interim chair of accounting, finance and economics at Texas A&M University Central Texas.

It is an uneasy thought for those who need chronic care and cannot afford it.

“And I’m even saying anything that’s $14 or $15, that just might be a 30-day supply,” said Moultrie. “But of course, this is continuous care for them to make them better to get them back to that whole care they need to be.”

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