Retirees Push For Prescription Help

May 25, 2001 ( ? The labor movement unveiled the results of its latest organizing effort yesterday ? retirees.

Already claiming 2.5 million members, the AFL-CIO-created Alliance for Retired Americans came out with a vengeance and an prescription drug agenda yesterday. That agenda calls for protecting employer-provided retiree health and drug benefits, and controlling prices charged by drug companies.

It also calls for all Medicare beneficiaries to participate on a voluntary basis, with all benefits guaranteed and all needed drugs covered.

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Report Card

The Alliance issued a report that claimed that drug pricing was uneven, with uninsured individual consumers paying the highest prices for prescription drugs, while large purchasers are given discounts and rebates as inducements. The group also claimed that most “core research” is federally funded ? a charge refuted by spokespersons for the pharmaceutical industry.

The group is planning “events” in 20 US cities over the Memorial Day Congressional recess, promoting their interest in a Medicare-based prescription drug benefit.

The report also claimed that:

  • drug prices rose 306% between 1981 and 1999, versus a consumer price index increase of just 99%
  • average prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients increased from $674 a year in 1996 to $1,539 last year
  • a decade from now, the average cost of prescription drugs could reach $3,751, a 9.3% increase
  • last year pharmaceutical companies enjoyed after-tax profits of 18.6% versus 4.9% for the Fortune 500

See prior coverage:  AFL-CIO Creates Retiree Organization For All American Workers