Sunday, October 23, 2005

California, Prop 78 and 79: Hopefully, it works ….

I did a little analysis on Prop 78 and Prop 79 in California. Prop 78 is “Discounts on Prescription Drugs” and Prop 79 is “Prescription Drug Discounts: State-Negotiated Rebates.” These propositions allow the state of California to build a state-run-drug discount program. The program sounds good, but I am afraid it may not work.

The successful operation of Prop 78 seems to depend on how many pharmacies and drug companies voluntarily participate into the state-run drug discount program. “Voluntarily” is a key word here. Voluntary participation means that it is perfectly legitimate that the companies decide not to participate. The state of California cannot require them to participate, either. What if many companies decide not to participate? Well, the program would not work. Here comes my concern: how many drug companies are willingly and voluntarily give discount prices to many Californians? I am not so optimistic…

With Prop 79, I believe that the state of California modifies Medi-Cal and builds the new drug discount program as an extension/a part of the current Medi-Cal drug discount system. Medi-Cal is the California version of Medicaid that is funded by both state and federal taxes. “Partially funded by federal tax” is a problem here. This means that the state of California would need to get federal approval to modify Medi-Cal, and you know how long it takes for the federal government to take any action especially in the social services arena. If it takes too long time, the state of California would never be able to implement the program.

There is no easy way for the drug discount program to be implemented, but we have to decide which one we want to vote for. Here is an additional info. about these propositions: with Prop 79, both low- and middle-income people would benefit. With Prop 78, low-income individuals would benefit, but not others.

OK … I hope I did not discourage you to vote in November.
Here is a bit more detailed info.


Anonymous said...

Interesting point. I agree that no matter how appealing Prop. 79 may look to some, the reality is that even if it is passed, it is not likely to ever really go into'll be stuck in red tape and courts forever.

When you compare that scenario to the fact that Prop. 78 could go into effect right away - so that people would receive discounts right way - it really isn't a contest in my opinion. Prop. 78 wins.

Coppertop said...

Please remember, though, that Prop 78 is voluntary. People would receive discounts right away ONLY when many drug companies and pharmacies voluntarily participate in the program. They can also kill the program by not participating. In other words, they get all the power to determine the fate of the program.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding. I don't really think that Prop. 78 vs. 79 is about who gets all of the "power." It's about picking a plan that is the most realistic and practical, a plan that can actually help people in real terms. People can play up the "drug companies will have to comply or else" theory behind Prop. 79, but what good would that do if it passes and the plan is tied up in court forever? I think that if you want to see prescription drug discounts actually happen in CA, you should support Prop. 78.