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AARP Oregon and OSPIRG, the leading senior and consumer advocacy groups in Oregon, are warning voters to watch out for telemarketing scams designed to trick voters into supporting policies that could hurt them.
The Voter Alert comes a week after a Eugene Register-Guard investigation into the shady practices of a group called “Caregiver Voices United.” The Register-Guard revealed that the group funded by drug manufacturers pretended to be a patient advocacy group and called Oregonians to convince them to join an effort to stop the prescription drug price transparency bill, HB 4005. One of the independent contractors hired by Caregiver Voices United blew the whistle after looking up the bill and realizing that it was one he and other people would support.
Calling it a “subversive campaign,” the Eugene Register-Guard published the documents from the whistleblower. The documents showed:
- Caregiver Voices United – the front group – is actually funded by the pharmaceutical industry, including Allergen, Genentech and GlaxoSmithKline.
- The script Caregiver Voices United gave its telemarketers is riddled with false information about HB 4005.
- Telemarketers are paid on a bounty system, earning more money for each voter they convince to send a letter and participate in the campaign.
Oregon seniors have great concern over prescription drug prices and are likely to be targeted in scams like this says Jon Bartholomew, Government Relations Director of AARP Oregon.
“It’s shameful that prescription drug companies would spend their money trying to trick seniors into opposing a bill that would finally shine the light on why drug prices keep going up year after year,” says Bartholomew. “We are alerting our members: if you get a call from Caregiver Voices United, don’t be fooled. This is not a real patient advocacy organization.”
Jesse O’Brien, Policy Director at OSPIRG, said “It’s clear from the Register-Guard investigation that the powerful pharmaceutical industry will do whatever it takes to keep us from knowing the truth behind their skyrocketing prices.”
HB 4005 would require drug companies to report to the state the justification for any price increase 10% or higher. The report must include the company profits from the bill, the cost for research and development, the cost to market the drug, whether there are generic alternatives available and what the drug costs in other countries.
AARP Oregon and OSPIRG have joined with nurses, doctors, health plans, labor and other advocacy groups in support of drug price transparency. They see the actions by the pharmaceutical industry as a way to trick voters into opposing something that would help bring prescription prices down. They urge voters to be alert for the calls.
Top three things to do if you get a call:
- Ask to speak to a manager. A true patient advocacy group will have one you can speak to. Groups like Caregiver Voices United pay individual contractors who work alone, usually from home.
- Ask how the group is funded. A true patient advocacy group will be able to provide you with an answer.
- Do not give the telemarketer your personal information or agree to have a letter sent to your representative on your behalf.
For more information, contact Jesse O’Brien, OSPIRG – 503-504-8627
Or Jon Bartholomew, AARP (503) 333-7002
Your donation supports OSPIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.