President Trump reinvigorated the drug price policy debate by recently stating that prescription drug prices "are out of control" and, for a second time, that drug companies are "getting away with murder." He's expected to soon announce a bi-partisan drug price task force to examine prescription drug costs. The president's renewed focus on lowering drug costs is a relief from the misaligned priority of healthcare reform, which seems to have overshadowed Americans most pressing healthcare concern: soaring drug costs.
During a press conference today, Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to introduce new legislation aimed at lowering the high cost of prescription drugs for the 41 million Medicare enrollees. Medicare is the largest purchaser of prescription medications, however it is expressly prohibited from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies over the price of medications.
The Medicare Drug Price Negotiations Act would amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act by removing the non-interference clause, which expressly bans Medicare from negotiating drug prices.
During recent testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee hearing on Stabilizing the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, AARP became the largest consumer organization to publicly support the prescription drug policy solutions reflected in Prescription Justice’s policy platform. AARP supports commonsense policy reforms to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, end pay-for-delay deals that delay entry of generic drugs into the marketplace, and increase access to lower cost medications through safe prescription drug importation. As part of a larger set of priorities for protecting and strengthening the healthcare system, AARP boldly declared that any changes to the healthcare law must include solutions to address rising prescription drug costs.
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.
The Prescription Justice coalition letter from last month, signed by a growing number of consumer, health and social justice organizations, supports S. 469/ H.R. 1245, The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act of 2017, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT and Representative Elijah Cummings, D-MD. If enacted, this bill would allow individuals, pharmacies and wholesalers to import FDA-approved medications from Canada, and then, after two years, from other countries with equally rigorous systems for regulating the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals.
Prescription Justice also supports S. 64 / H.R. 1480, The Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2017, introduced by Senator John McCain, R-AZ and Representative Chellie Pingree, D-ME.