President Joe Biden spoke at Irvine Valley College on Friday and advocated for reducing the costs of healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
The President expressed his frustrations over the rapid increase in drug costs, including pills for autoimmune diseases that cost $1000.
Before he addressed the increase in pharmaceuticals, Biden acknowledged Shani Moslehi, the president of the Iranian American Chamber of Commerce, who wore a t-shirt that read “Woman, Life, Freedom, #MahsaAmini .”
“Women all over the world are being persecuted in various ways, and they should be able to wear in God’s name what they want to wear,” Biden said. “The death of Mahsa Amini stunned me what it awakened Iran, and I don’t think it will be quieted for a long time.”
Moslehi was surprised by the shoutout, and demanded the U.S. stop negotiating with Iranian government and assist with the removal of that government.
“We’re just asking President Biden to ease the sanctions so technology companies can go in and help the people of Iran,” Moslehi said. “The government has control of the internet, and we need outside countries to interfere.”
Other advocacy organizations tried to get the President’s attention, including Eric Jimenez, the Teamsters 952 treasurer.
The labor union treasurer expressed his support for regulated drug costs.
“The one, the one thing that we as humans already fight for, is getting fair health care, getting reasonable health care for our members,” Jimenez said. “If lower prescription drugs are passed, that’s one less thing you have to fight for and we can spend our energy on fair wages, retirement, and work rules.”
Approximately 1,216 drug prices increased by 31.6% from July 2021 to July 2022 and exceeded the inflation rate of 8.5%, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
President Biden expressed his outrage over drug companies overcharging for life-saving medicine, advocating for putting a $35 price cap on insulin.
Biden signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to create a plan to lower prescription drug costs for seniors within 90 days.
“Last year, a family of four with health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, saved $3,400 when the American Rescue Plan was signed,” Biden said. “Now the Inflation Reduction Act will lock that into place and lower healthcare premiums for millions of families.”
Biden also endorsed Katie Porter, who is running for re-election in California’s 45th congressional district in the midterm elections.
“Big Pharma has inexplicably set ridiculous launch prices and blocked cheaper options, and patients have no choice when they need to take these medications to survive,” Porter said. “You can stand with drug company executives, or you can stand with taxpayers, and I will always fight for taxpayers and work to strengthen our capitalist economy.”
Porter turned to Susan Meyer, an organizer of the California Alliance of Retired Americans.
Meyer shared that her mother faced the same struggles decades ago.
“[My mother] was spending an extraordinary amount of money on her prescription medications, like many seniors and battled with diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol,” Meyer said.
When her mother’s health declined, the CARA organizer discovered that her mother was taking half her prescription to save money.
“Seniors shouldn’t have to choose between taking their medication and paying for food, it’s why I decided to help organize seniors with the California Alliance for Retired Americans,” Meyer said. “Our goal is to maintain and improve social security and Medicare for all.”
Demonstrators protested at each corner of the college campus. While some organizers advocated for equal rights in Iran, supporters of former president Donald Trump protested against Biden by yelling at oncoming motorists to support the MAGA movement in the November elections.
Early voting for the midterm elections has started, and Californians have until Nov. 8 to cast their ballot.
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