WashPIRG Students Celebrates “Healthcare Hero”, New Prescription Drug Affordability Law

Press Release |

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 6, 2022 
CONTACT: Marcella Buser, WashPIRG campus organizer, [email protected], 541-505-4240

During National Public Health Week, students with WashPIRG at the University of Washington and Washington Community Action Network (CAN) presented state Senator Karen Keiser a cape for being a healthcare hero. Senator Keiser sponsored the new healthcare bill that will go into effect this year. The bill, SB 5532, will establish a prescription drug affordability board and save Washingtonians money on prescription drugs.

“Prescription costs are already extremely high yet among the fastest-growing healthcare expenditures in our state,” says Parnian Karimi, class of ‘23 and coordinator for WashPIRG’s affordable healthcare campaign. “With the financial hardships the pandemic has brought on, we need to get prescription costs down now more than ever.” 

To pass this bill, students presented one thousand petition signatures to elected officials after testifying in support of the bill. “University of Washington students were very supportive of this bill, because a lot of students have struggled with healthcare costs and want to do something about it,” said Karimi.

A recent study from RAND found that drug prices in the U.S. are two-and-a-half times higher than in 31 other Western nations, and that America’s spending on prescription drugs rose 76 percent between 2000 and 2017.

The bill will establish a prescription drug affordability board. The state board would identify and conduct affordability reviews of drugs that either are priced at excessive levels or that have sharply increased in price.

“The goal of this bill is to restrain egregious price increases for lifesaving drugs that have been on the market for years,” said Senator Keiser, the bill sponsor. “We need to put downward pressure on the price of prescription drugs.”

Students gathered at Red Square on UW’s campus with signs thanking Senator Keiser for being a healthcare hero and heard from Karimi about the work that WashPIRG Students has done to help pass the bill, from collecting petitions and emails to testifying in public hearings.  Karimi said she wants to go to med school, but is discouraged by the prospect of patients not being able to afford their prescriptions. “But with this bill, we are one step closer to living in a future that our patients deserve.”

Rashell Lisowski, the lead organizer with Washington CAN, voiced her support and thanks to the Senator for her leadership, and lastly Senator Keiser spoke about the impacts of the bill and importance of advocacy.  “Bills like this don’t pass unless we have many voices of support who contact their lawmakers.  I am so grateful for the WashPIRG student organization for its wonderful advocacy that helped us win passage SB 5532 into law.”

WashPIRG Students is a statewide student-funded and student-directed nonprofit advocacy organization that provided the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more.