August 01, 2017

Van Hollen, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Ensure a Better Deal for Seniors on Prescription Drug Costs

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in introducing 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.

"Seniors in Maryland and across the country are burdened by the skyrocketing prices of essential and lifesaving medications, and they deserve better," Senator Van Hollen said. "Allowing Medicare to negotiate the best possible price is a common sense reform that will help control costs for the millions of Americans struggling to afford care. It is imperative that we work to improve our health care system, and making prescription drugs more affordable is a key pillar of that effort."

"Medicare is one of the largest drug purchasers in the country. It makes no sense that it's restricted from negotiating the best deal with drug manufacturers," Senator Klobuchar said. "American seniors deserve a better deal. This legislation would leverage the bargaining power of nearly 41 million seniors to negotiate less expensive prices under Medicare."

The legislation would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services 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. By harnessing the bargaining power of nearly 41 million seniors, Medicare could negotiate bigger discounts than pharmaceutical companies.

Senator Van Hollen has also cosponsored legislation to improve the Affordable Care Act by tackling the cost of prescription drugs, and has cosponsored legislation to allow Americans to import safe, low-cost medicine from Canada.

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), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are cosponsors of the legislation.