My name is Victoria Stuessel. I’m a mom to three beautiful children and a wife to my husband of seven years. I’m a 34-year-old Californian. I also happen to have multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that affects the entire central nervous system. My immune system constantly attacks my brain and spinal cord, often making everyday tasks like playing with my daughter, driving, working, and taking care of my family unbearably painful. While the symptoms of this diagnosis are difficult to live with, one thing that has made my journey far more difficult is the cost of prescription drugs.
I’ve taken a dozen different medications that have caused severe financial stress for my family. My medications, without insurance, can cost up to $7000 a month. With such steep price tags, I have had to skip medications that help delay the progression of this illness, and this has become detrimental to my health. When skipping doses, the onset of my symptoms becomes more rapid. I begin to struggle with my balance and any action I take becomes painful. In addition, when I have a relapse, I require a five-day IV infusion of high dose steroids which is also extremely costly. If I were ever to lose my insurance, I wouldn't be able to take my medication at all.
I recently participated in a study involving a stem cell transplant to potentially send my MS into remission. My out of pocket for that was $10,000 up front. The drugs I was on via infusion included Solumedrol, Cytoxan, RATG, IVIG for the treatment. I fundraised for years to make it happen. The treatment was successful, but who knows what the future will bring. I hope to soon be on Medicare via disability soon. I've heard that other patients are having a hard time joining my same study if they're on Medicare and I know patients on Medicare struggle to afford their MS medications.
That is why I support the Trump Administration’s plan to lower how much Medicare pays for drugs in its Part B program. I have been and continue to need to be on infusion drugs and I could soon be on Medicare. As a patient and as a taxpayer, I know how important it is for the government to get better deals on drugs. Patients need this plan to be successfully implemented.