WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) this week reintroduced legislation to help bring down the cost of prescription drugs by giving the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the ability to negotiate the price of prescription drugs under Medicare in the same way the Medicaid program sets prices and the Department of Veterans Affairs negotiates on behalf of our nation’s veterans. This negotiating power would not only lower drug costs for seniors, but would also save tax payers billions and help lead to lower drug prices in the private insurance market.
“Negotiating better prices for Ohio seniors is a win for everyone because it will save taxpayer dollars and bring down drug costs for everyone,” said Brown.
The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act would allow the Secretary of HHS 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. 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 for taxpayers. Brown cosponsored this legislation last Congress.
Brown recently reached out to President-elect Donald Trump to outline ways he can work with Congress to help bring down the costs of prescription drugs. The letter is available here.
The legislation is sponsored by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), and Tim Kaine (D-VA). AARP supports the legislation.
“AARP has long-supported allowing the Secretary of HHS to use the bargaining power of Medicare’s millions of beneficiaries to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer. “AARP’s most recent Rx Price Watch report found that the retail prices of brand name drugs widely used by older Americans rose by an average of over 15 percent in 2015. Seniors and taxpayers cannot continue to absorb the impact of high and growing prescription drug prices.”