WASHINGTON, D.C. – In advance of tomorrow’s 50th Anniversary of Medicare, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlined new legislation designed to improve this critical health program by increasing access to more affordable prescription medications for seniors. A new report released by the Medicare Trustees found a 10.9 percent increase in the cost of drug prices last year, primarily due to new and specialty drug prices.

“Fifty years after the creation of Medicare, we have made historic improvements to our health care system. But there’s still more work to be done to improve and strengthen these programs so all Americans can retire with a sense of security,” Brown said. “That’s why it’s critical to seek opportunities to save taxpayers money while continuing to provide seniors with high-quality, affordable care. As we commemorate this milestone, there is a renewed urgency to protect and strengthen this critical program for future generations.”

During a news conference call today, Brown was joined by Belle Likover, a 95-year-old Medicare recipient from the Cleveland area who discussed how Medicare has helped her receive high-quality care while keeping costs under control. Following the call, Brown released a county-by-county report on the more than one million Ohio seniors who are Part D beneficiaries.

Brown announced the introduction of the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act, legislation that would allow seniors to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan administered by Medicare instead of a private insurance company. The bill would also help drive down costs for Americans enrolled in Medicare Part D by requiring the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate lower prices for prescription medications.

“The rising cost of drug prices threatens the promise that seniors can live their final years with dignity,” Brown continued. “Ohio seniors should be able to get drug coverage directly through Medicare, not be forced to buy from a middle man. That’s why I am cosponsoring the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act, which would allow seniors to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan administered directly by Medicare – instead of an insurance company – making prescription drugs more affordable.”

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