If nothing else, as noted in a previous post, Hillary Clinton's disastrous misstatement about Nancy Reagan and the HIV/AIDS crisis has prompted a new and much needed conversation about HIV/AIDS, a disease that continues to wreak havoc, especially in minority populations (it is a huge problem in the Hampton Roads black community). Now, Bernie Sanders has released his proposed plan on who to defeat the disease, including by taking on “profiteering” pharmaceutical companies" that have keep prices prohibitively high and out of the reach of many in need of HIV/AIDS medications. A piece in The Advocate looks at Sanders' proposal. Here are highlights:
Bernie Sanders has a plan to create an AIDS-free generation.
The Democratic candidate’s campaign released a statement on his website in order to address “the great moral issue of our day”— the affordability of HIV medicationThe statement took “profiteering” pharmaceutical companies to task for raising the prices of these treatments, thereby forcing those who live with HIV to pay thousands of dollars each year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States. In 2012, over 13,000 people died of an AIDS-related illness. LGBT people and people of color are particularly at risk. A recent CDC report noted that half of black gay men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.
“In the richest nation in the world, we must not tolerate a health care system that offers the best care to the rich, while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves,” said the Sanders statement. “We must do everything possible to end the greed of the pharmaceutical companies and get people the medicine they need at a price they can afford.”
To this end, the Sanders team proposed creating a “Prize Fund” of more than $3 billion annually that would “incentivize drug development” and “provide virtually universal access to lower-cost life-saving medicines” as they become available.
The plan also seeks to reform patent laws that privilege pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, as president, Sanders would have the secretary of Health and Human Services “negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and reduce barriers to the importation of lower-cost drugs from Canada and other countries.”
“The United States is the only major country on earth that does not regulate prescription drug prices in some manner,” the plan pointed out, “and the results have been an unmitigated disaster for patients and their families.”
The Sanders plan called for universal health care and the expansion of health services currently in place, including access to mental health care, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS.
It goes without saying that Sanders' proposals would be vigorously opposed by Republicans and their Christofascist base,Sanders also stressed the need for civil rights protections for LGBT and HIV-positive people, including safeguards against employment and housing discrimination.“We all must work together so we can finally realize the goal of an AIDS-free generation,” the statement concluded.