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ELECTION BRIEFS: Prop 61 - Drug Price Relief

"Day 36/366.....I Voted," by Flickr user Denise Cross Photography. Used under CC BY 2.0. Cropped and overlaid with text.

Prop 61 is about drug prices, so you can bet it’s a hot button issue. There’s more money being spent on it than any other ballot measure this year — and by Election Day, it could be the most spent on any measure in California history!


Here’s how it would work: Prop 61 would cap the amount the state could pay for prescription drugs. It would prevent the state from paying more for drugs than the Department of Veterans Affairs pays. That’s because the VA typically gets big discounts. Basically, the state is looking at the VA and saying, “We want those discounts too!”


Prop 61 only affects a few state agencies. It won’t affect people with private insurance, Covered California, or Medicare. But it could save the state money when buying drugs for about 5 million people.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the biggest supporter of Prop 61. It’s raised over $14 million for it. AARP, the California Nurses Association, and Bernie Sanders also support the measure. They all say it could set a precedent for the rest of the country.


Pharmaceutical companies oppose the measure. They’ve invested over $86 million so far to defeat Prop 61. If it passes, pharmaceutical companies might refuse to sell drugs to the state at the lower prices. These companies also say they might raise prices for people with private insurance, or raise prices for the VA.


That’s turned a whole bunch of people against Prop 61 — like veterans groups and the California Medical Association. They say the measure is poorly written and will backfire.


So to recap, voting yes on Prop 61 would limit the amount the state could pay when it buys pharmaceutical drugs. It would affect a few state agencies. If you oppose this limit, vote “no.”