Months before voters went to the polls on Proposition 61, last November’s unsuccessful drug-pricing measure, a California lawmaker pulled the plug on heavily lobbied legislation meant to deter significant increases in drug prices.
State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Asuza, shelved Senate Bill 1010 last August after the Assembly Appropriations Committee imposed amendments supporters said undermined the bill’s purpose.
Now Hernandez is back with Senate Bill 17, a measure that remained in spot form Tuesday. Hernandez, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, will be joined by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, wealthy Democratic activist Tom Steyer, and others at a 10 a.m. Capitol press conference to tout the legislation which, like SB 1010, is meant to improve drug-pricing transparency.
Supporters say drug prices have only increased. Gov. Jerry Brown weighed in on the issue himself last year, issuing a signing statement on a bill backed by Mylan Inc., the maker of the EpiPen brand of epinephrine autoinjectors, that allows more businesses and colleges to stock the devices. “State government cannot stop unconscionable price increases but it can shed light on such rapacious corporate behavior,” he wrote.
Mylan was among the dozens of drug makers and industry associations that worked against SB 1010. Opponents said such proposals fail to recognize that a drug’s shelf price often does not reflect the actual cost paid because of various purchase discounts, and that the bill would have led to a stockpiling of drugs.
The industry’s California winning streak continued into the fall, with the defeat of Proposition 61. The measure would have limited the prices of drugs purchased by California agencies to those paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. But victory didn’t come easy: opponents outspent supporters by more than 5-to-1 and the yes campaign got within shouting distance of an upset thanks to the backing of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and others.
WORTH REPEATING: “This is the best candidate Dems can find against @DarrellIssa. In other words, he’ll be fine.” – Ron Nehring, GOP consultant, deriding Democrat Doug Applegate, who wants a 2018 rematch with Issa, R-Vista.
DAY OF ACTION: More than 1,000 protesters are expected for a daylong “Statewide Call to Action” at the Capitol in support a pair of bills: Senate Bill 54 to create a “sanctuary state” in California, and Senate Bill 31, which prohibits state agencies from asking job applicants about race, sex, marital status or religion. Sponsored by PICO-California, the rally is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Capitol.
STUDENT OF THE GAME: Five years ago, the Legislature passed a “Student Athlete Bill of Rights“ that requires major college sports programs to cover the medical expenses and continue providing scholarships for athletes who are injured while playing for their teams. Now Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, wants California to regulate the health and safety practices of collegiate athletics as well. Joined by Marshall Ross, who blames the death of his son, Scott Ross, on brain trauma suffered while playing football at the University of Southern California and professionally, Gonzalez Fletcher will unveil her plan for a state “Athlete Protection Commission” on a conference call at 9:30 a.m. California previously limited full-contact football practices for high schoolers in 2014.
PASS THE BRANDY!: When the California Armenian Legislative Caucus is having a brand- tasting reception at a high-end Mexican restaurant near the Capitol, it's a good idea to get on the list. That's happening tonight at Mayahuel from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the caucus' annual fundraising reception. The bipartisan group of lawmakers raises money to sponsor scholarship contests and to promote greater awareness of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman government in 1915. Tickets range from $500 to $5,000.
Dan Smith and Alexei Koseff of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.