Prescription Drug Costs for Seniors

By Big Island Now

Posted August 3, 2017, 09:00 AM HSTUpdated August 3, 2017, 09:27 AM HST

Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced a bill to allow 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 bars Medicare from bargaining directly with pharmaceutical companies.

“Our kūpuna deserve to have access to affordable prescription medication,” said Sen. Hirono. “This commonsense legislation allows Medicare to negotiate directly with manufacturers to bring down costs for Hawai‘i seniors and their families.”

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.

With 41 million seniors, including nearly 70,000 in Hawai‘i, participating in Medicare Part D, Medicare could negotiate bigger discounts with pharmaceutical companies.

Sens. 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), 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) are also cosponsors of the legislation.