We are pleased to announce that Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) recently introduced legislation aimed at lowering the high cost of prescription drugs for the 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare. If enacted, S. 1688, The Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act, would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate fair prescription drug prices under Part D of the Medicare program. The federal government spends far more on prescription drugs purchased for Medicare enrollees than it spends for Medicaid and the Veterans Administration because the current law prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower prices with pharmaceutical companies.
S. 1688 would eliminate the “non-interference” clause in Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, which expressly bans Medicare from negotiating drug prices. The language in S. 1688 is less restrictive than similar legislation, S. 41, also introduced by Sen. Klobuchar earlier this year. That legislation, S. 41, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2017, would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from establishing or requiring a fixed drug formulary for any prescription drug plan in Medicare; S. 1688 wisely omits this binding language.
Bipartisan support is critical to moving this legislation forward in Congress. Yet, despite having over 30 Democratic Senate sponsors, there are currently no Republican sponsors of the bill. This lack of bipartisan support runs counter to the overwhelming majority of both Republicans (92%) and Democrats (96%) alike that support legislative reforms to allow the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices through Medicare.
Passing legislation such as S. 1688 and S. 41 to end the ban on Medicare drug price negotiations is one of Prescription Justice’s core policy priorities. We strongly support both measures and applaud Sen. Klobuchar for her continued leadership in this effort to reign in prescription drug pricing.