Congressional Bills To Lower Drug Prices, The Current Status
Congressional bills to lower prescription drug prices are slowly inching through the House and Senate deliberation process. Senior citizens as well as people on fixed incomes hope these bills will pass and become law as soon as possible.
Congress is now starting to catch up. The U.S. House of Representatives is taking up HR 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019. In the Senate, a bipartisan group of Senators are working on the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019.
Both of these bills would help lower costs that older Americans are struggling to afford.
Current drug prices are not sustainable. Medicare beneficiaries live on an average annual income of just over $26,000. Meanwhile, the average annual price for a specialty drug used for a chronic condition is now nearly $79,000. No one can afford medications that cost more than their annual income.
Congressional Bills: What’s In The Legislation?
The House bill would require Medicare to negotiate some drug prices. Both bills create an out-of-pocket cap in Medicare Part D and would crack down on increases in drug prices.
The drug industry claims that any action to lower prescription drug prices will stifle innovation on new drugs by cutting into profits. That assertion doesn’t hold water. In fact, the opposite is true. Right now, the 10 biggest pharmaceutical companies spend twice as much on advertising, overhead and profit-taking than on actual research and development.
In reality, the big drug companies charge Americans more than anyone else in the world. Recently, one pharmaceutical CEO admitted in his testimony before Congress that they still make a profit in every country where they sell medicines.
The policies in these bills would save taxpayers billions of dollars. Advocacy groups are urging Congress to invest these savings back into Medicare by creating new dental, hearing and vision benefits. These much-needed investments will improve quality of life and reduce health care costs down the road.
The current high prescription drug prices disproportionately hurt older Americans — particularly Medicare Part D enrollees, who average nearly three prescriptions a month.
Right now, there is a real possibility of reducing drug prices on a bipartisan basis. There is no reason Americans should be paying the highest drug prices in the world.