Ron focuses on improving rural health care and lowering prescription drug prices

In Klamath Falls and Portland this past week, Ron focused on two of his top priorities as the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee – improving rural health care and lowering the soaring cost of prescription drugs for seniors.

He spoke at his meeting in Klamath Falls with southern Oregon healthcare providers about his judgment that this Congress presents a genuine opportunity for bipartisan legislation that achieves better rural health care.

Drawing on recent bipartisan rural health gains he worked to achieve in expanded telehealth, including further deployment of rural broadband, and improved treatment for opioid use disorders, Ron asked the providers for their suggestions.

“Political change doesn’t start from the top down in Washington, DC,” he said after hearing recommendations that included resources for developing doctors locally and improving reliable access to broadband in rural Oregon. “It starts at the grass roots here in the Klamath Basin with your good ideas.”

Later in the week, Ron held a news conference at an independent southeast Portland pharmacy on how skyrocketing prescription drug prices impose financial punishment on seniors, many of whom are living on fixed incomes and facing multiple medical challenges.

At the news conference with the senator were AARP Oregon State Director Ruby Houghton-Pitts and Fran Zimmerman-Kamm, a 77-year-old woman who must take cheaper and less effective insulin for her diabetes.  

Ron is working on several bills aimed at the high drug prices Houghton-Pitts and Zimmerman-Kamm spoke of at the news conference. His pieces of legislation would cap out-of-pocket costs on drugs, hold manufacturers accountable for jacking up their prices and taking the long-overdue, common-sense step of letting Medicare actually negotiate drug prices.

“Big Pharma is inflicting Big Pain on Oregonians of all ages,” Ron said. “Bottom line, Oregonians across the state have told me time and again how important this issue is for their families. And I am committed to continuing to push for reforms that lower prescription drug costs for Oregonians and Americans across the country.”

The Portland news conference followed up on a Finance Committee hearing last month on escalating drug prices.