Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appeared at Pershing Square in downtown LA on Monday to rally people to vote in favor of Proposition 61, the California Drug Price Relief Act.
The proposition, one of the most closely watched in the election season, aims to lower prescription drug prices. It will require the state to pay no more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for the drugs.
On the final day before Tuesday's election, Sanders, the independent U.S. senator of Vermont, called the proposition an "enormously important initiative" that would stand up to "the greed of pharmaceutical companies."
"A victory here in California will not only decrease prescription prices here, it will impact every state in the country," Sanders said.
The crowd, which filled the square, erupted in cheers as Sanders said that Californians were not just taking on the pharmaceutical industry but "taking on the entire establishment."
Amy Seeley, a supporter at the event, is against what she and the Yes on 61 campaign see as the price gouging of medications.
"I'm not even a sick person, but I know people who need EpiPens and diabetics who need insulin, and if pharmaceuticals can raise the prices to as high as they want then that's ridiculous," Seeley said. "We as the people have the right to say we will not tolerate that."
Clare Holzer, another supporter of the proposition, believes the drug companies are only it in for the money. It meant a lot to her that Sanders was pushing for the proposition.
"I think that the Bernie revolution was more than just his candidacy, and most of the people that got involved are in it for the long haul, for everything that's down-ticket," she said. "Not just our local representatives but also propositions like this one. And the fact that Bernie came out here shows that he's the real deal— he actually does care even though he didn't get elected."
Other speakers at the event included representatives of the California Nurses Association, VoteVets, Social Security Works and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
But opponents also showed up at the event. Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the No on Proposition 61 Coalition, was at the rally and argued that the proposition would actually increase prescription costs, not decrease them, a main critique by those who oppose the bill. Fairbanks also said the bill would only affect a small number of people.
"Prop 61 only covers 12 percent of Californians in some government programs. The other 88 percent could face higher drug costs," she said.
While Fairbanks said she agrees that she would like to see drug costs go down, she said Proposition 61 is not the way to do it.
Other opponents of this measure say that it won't stop drug companies from raising prices on private insurers, consumers and the VA to make up for the money they are losing from the state cap.
A Fields/IGS Poll found that California voters are split on this issue. The poll surveyed 1,498 voters between Oct. 25 and 31 and found that 47 percent said they would vote yes and 47 percent would plan to vote no, with the rest undecided.