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Bernie Sanders Lands In Hollywood Today To Stump For Prop. 61

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(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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With all the fallout surrounding Trump, and the intrigue with hacked emails, you may have forgotten a bit about Bernie Sanders. Well, now you can revisit the summer of 2016, when Bernie-mania was at its fever pitch.

Today, you'll be able to Feel The Bern when Sanders drops in on a rally at the American Federation of Musicians Hall in Hollywood at 4:30 p.m., stumping for Proposition 61. As noted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who are the main backers behind Prop. 61, this will be Sanders' first trip back to California since his primary election campaign (remember when he visited the Silver Lake Farmers Market?).

As for what Prop. 61 is, the ballot measure, if passed, will prevent the state from paying for drugs at prices above what the Department of Veteran Affairs (the VA) pays for its prescriptions. This sets a bar as to what the state will pay for prescription drugs and, theoretically, mean that Big Pharma will be stopped from naming arbitrary (i.e. crazy high) prices. Remember when the makers of Epi-Pen decided to raise prices by 400 percent?

Roger Salazar, a spokesman for Prop. 61, told LA Weekly that the measure could save taxpayers around $1 billion a year.

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While that sounds like a just and fair approach, opponents of Prop. 61 would like to remind us that Big Pharma is pretty wily: if they were to lose profits from this measure, they could possibly find other ways to make up for the loses, like raising the prices they charge to private insurers or even the VA (which would defeat the purpose of the prop in the first place). This is why you've been seeing veterans on TV opposing the proposition. And, as noted by L.A. Times editorial board (they're opposing Prop. 61), it may be a logistical headache. For one thing, it's very difficult to determine what the VA actually pays for its drugs, because negotiations between the VA and drugmakers aren't always fully disclosed. Also, in order to cut costs, the VA only purchases select drugs, whereas the state's Medi-Cal offers every federally approved drug. So it might not make sense to use the VA's prices as a bench-marker, as they might not even have the price to begin with.

Either way, Sanders is going full-steam with backing Prop 61. You may have already seen him on TV, urging you to vote yes on the measure.

The American Federation of Musicians Local 47 is at 817 Vine Street, Hollywood.