WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined a coalition of 30 other U.S. Senators led by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar in introducing legislation to unleash the bargaining power of seniors for a better deal on prescription drug costs. The legislation would allow for Medicare to negotiate the best possible price of prescription drugs to cut costs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Current law only allows for bargaining by pharmaceutical companies and bans Medicare from doing so.
"Bargaining for lower drug prices-- the best deal for seniors and all consumers-- is sound economics and common sense. This reform is long overdue, enabling Medicare to negotiate lower prices, with savings for taxpayers and likely patients at drug counters,” Blumenthal said. “The uncontrolled explosion in pharmaceutical drug pricing is crippling patients and our national economy. Whether it is 5,000-percent price increases for decades-old, off-patent drugs, or 300 percent increases for a simple workhorse medical supplies like saline, Congress must act. This simple measure is a first step toward comprehensive action required to correct this crisis.”
Murphy said, "It make absolutely no sense to prohibit the federal government from negotiating directly with drug companies for lower prices. The drug industry is very powerful in Washington, but their vice grip on health care policy has to end. Allowing the federal government to negotiate for lower prices will save taxpayers billions and result in big savings for consumers. It's a no brainer."
The legislation 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. By harnessing the bargaining power of nearly 41 million seniors, Medicare could negotiate bigger discounts than pharmaceutical companies.
Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are also cosponsors of the legislation.