Cantwell Introduces 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
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has introduced 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.
“Our seniors should not have to choose between lifesaving medicine and other vital necessities,” said Senator Cantwell. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation, which allows Medicare to leverage its purchasing power to lower prescription drug prices for seniors. When you buy in bulk, you should get a discount.”
The legislation would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts in 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 and thus lower prices for seniors.
In addition to her Medicare negotiation bill, Cantwell has been working with her Senate and House colleagues to drive down the rising costs of prescription drugs. Earlier this year, Cantwell cosponsored legislation with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would allow the safe prescription drug importation from Canada. In the Affordable Care Act, Cantwell secured a provision to require reporting and transparency from pharmacy benefit managers – the middlemen between health insurance plans, pharmaceutical companies, and pharmacies – to ensure that savings from drug price negotiations are being passed on to consumers and not contributing more to pharmaceutical companies’ bottom lines.
The bill, led by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), was also co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), 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), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), 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).