01.05.17

As New Congress Opens, Leahy Joins Klobuchar And Others To Introduce Legislation To Lower Prescription Drug Prices For Seniors

. . . bill would drop ban that bars Medicare from using its bargaining power to negotiate best possible prices for prescription drugs . . . a simple reform that would help cut costs for nearly 41million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D, while adding to savings in Medicare’s budget

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Jan. 5, 2017) -- At the start of the new Congress, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has joined Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and others in introducing legislation to lower prescription drug prices for seniors.  The lawmakers have introduced the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.  Current law only allows for bargaining by pharmaceutical companies and bans Medicare from doing so.  The legislation would help cut costs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D and boost Medicare savings.

Leahy said:  “Soaring drug prices still put necessary medications out of reach for many, and especially seniors.  Using Medicare’s buying power to lower costs is something we tried to include in ACA from the start, but the drug industry blocked it. It’s high time to allow Medicare to negotiate a fair cost for prescriptions based on the true needs of Americans.”

Introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, eliminating the “non-interference” clause that expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for the best possible prices. The government can harness the bargaining power of nearly 41 million seniors to negotiate bigger discounts than insurance companies.

Leahy also has authored an additional bill to deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace.  In the last Congress he introduced his bipartisan Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, which targets anticompetitive practices used by some brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies to block entry of lower-cost generic drugs. 

Leahy said:  “Pharmaceutical companies should be compensated for their important work developing life-saving treatments, but predatory practices at the expense of consumers are unacceptable.”

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