Rep. Wasserman Schultz Votes to Require Medicare to Negotiate with Companies for Lower Drug Prices

American Chronicle

Bill Is Designed to Lower Drug Costs For Thousands of South Florida Seniors and People with Disabilities.

     Washington, D.C. Today, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz voted to cut the cost of health care and improve access to medicines by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.

     The House passed the bill this afternoon by a vote of 255 to 170.

     “This bill is critically needed,” stated Rep. Wasserman Schultz. “Thousands of South Florida seniors are paying too much for their prescriptions because the current Medicare prescription drug law has failed to slow the rapid growth in drug prices. A study by Families USA has shown that the prices charged by Medicare drug plans are rising at more than twice the rate of overall inflation.”

     “The 2003 Medicare Rx Drug Law included a provision, sought by big drug companies, that prohibited Medicare from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices for seniors,” stated Rep. Wasserman Schultz. “The bill we passed here today repeals this special-interest provision and requires the federal government to conduct such cost-saving negotiations.”

     “Currently, the only entity in this country that cannot bargain for lower group drug prices is Medicare,” Rep. Wasserman Schultz said. “States, Fortune 500 companies, and large pharmacy chains all use their bargaining clout to obtain lower drug prices for the patients they represent. The federal government, through Medicare, should have the same ability to negotiate on behalf of millions of seniors.”

     The bill allows Medicare broad discretion on how to best implement the negotiating authority and achieve price discounts for Medicare beneficiaries.

     Rep. Wasserman Schultz noted that the bill is supported by dozens of organizations, including AARP, National Community Pharmacists Association, Association of Community Pharmacists, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Medicare Rights Center, Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, Families USA, and Consumers Union.

Copyright 2007