Democrats Reintroduce Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Legislation

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Medicare Prescription Drug

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Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), along with Reps. MarionBerry (D-Ark.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), on Tuesday reintroducedlegislation that would require the federal government to negotiateprices directly with pharmaceutical companies for medications under theMedicare prescription drug benefit, CongressDaily reports. The bill would allow Medicare to establish a formulary that would give HHSleverage in negotiations. Durbin said, "Under current law, Medicarebeneficiaries are stuck with confusing, costly plans designed byinsurance and drug companies. What seniors deserve is an affordable,straightforward drug benefit."

According to a report released Tuesday by Consumers Union and the Medicare Rights Center,private insurers do not negotiate significant savings for Medicarebeneficiaries. The report found that Medicaid saves 26% on drugspending, while the Medicare drug benefit will save 8.1% this year.Berry estimated that about $40 billion could be saved through agovernment-led drug negotiation program. He said that the bill would bereintroduced until it is approved.

Mohit Ghose, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans,said Medicare drug benefit costs have been below estimates the last twoyears and noted that private insurance plans are offering Medicare drugplans at lower-than-expected premiums. "Negotiation that is occurringis obviously producing results," Ghose said (Edney, CongressDaily, 10/24).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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