Reading William Smith’s opinion (Connecticut must protect vulnerable populations from biased and discriminatory healthcare practices, April 13, 2021), I was worried that my state had passed draconian laws that were harming the health of seniors and people with disabilities. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. Our anti-discrimination laws are still in place and functioning.
Connecticut families, employers and the state budget are straining under the crushing weight of rising drug costs. Half of Connecticut residents are worried about being able to afford the medications they need. One in five state residents either didn’t fill a prescription or skipped doses because of cost. Monopolies and other market advantages bestowed on drug companies allow them to set their own prices and have generated profits twice as high as other S&P 500 companies.
In his article, Smith failed to mention that he was a lobbyist for Pfizer for ten years before joining the Pioneer Institute, a conservative Boston think tank that advocates for policies that benefit drug companies.
In his article Smith launched an attack on Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY), one of several scientific metrics, including patient input, used to judge the value of new drugs and set fair prices for those medications. Drug companies have mounted a well-resourced campaign to get states to outlaw the use of any tool to moderate their profits and make drugs affordable, and Smith wants Connecticut to acquiesce. He cites unrelated poor decisions by Massachusetts and New York during the COVID pandemic that discriminated against seniors and people with disabilities. But neither of those mistakes happened in Connecticut and neither involved the QALY.
Smith also invokes other industrialized nations’ “socialized medicine” systems that do set fair prices for drugs. The U.S. pays twice or more per person for healthcare as other countries do, which allows them to afford coverage for everyone, and they live longer than Americans. We should learn from them.
Smith should be honest with CT Mirror readers about his background and his opposition to fair drug pricing and affordable healthcare. He shouldn’t try to distract us with irrelevant stories from other states and anti-discrimination rhetoric. True discrimination against seniors and people with disabilities happens every day when they can’t afford the medications they need.
Ellen Andrews, PhD is Executive Director of the CT Health Policy Project.