Pelosi Urges Hastert to Bring Drug Negotiation Legislation to House Floor in November
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi sent the following letter to Speaker Hastert today urging him to bring to the floor Democratic legislation to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower drug prices when the House returns for its lame duck session in November.
Below is the text of the letter:
October 26, 2006
The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
United States House of Representatives
H 232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
As thousands of seniors fall into the doughnut hole, continuing to pay premiums without getting prescription drug coverage, I am writing to bring to your attention to an item in the Democratic New Direction for America that can provide much-needed help and hope to America's seniors and their families: drug price negotiation under Medicare. I request that you schedule a vote on this critical item during the final session of the 109th Congress, set to begin on November 13th.
With pharmaceutical companies reporting record profits and drug prices rising, there is a great deal we can do to improve the prescription drug plan enacted in 2003 and make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors and people with disabilities. Democrats strongly believe that the Secretary of Health and Human Services should be required to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of seniors, just as the Veterans' Administration currently does on behalf of veterans. The drug prices negotiated on behalf of veterans are substantially lower than the prices seniors and individuals with disabilities receive from the drug plans under the Medicare Part D program.
Requiring the federal government to negotiate on behalf of seniors would generate significant savings, savings which could be used to close the gap in coverage - or doughnut hole -- that threatens millions of Medicare beneficiaries this year.
It simply isn't right that after incurring approximately $2,000 in drug costs, seniors must continue to pay monthly premiums - and pay for their next $3,000 in prescription costs - until they receive another penny of prescription drug coverage.
We have an opportunity to lower the cost of prescription drugs for America's seniors, while making the Medicare prescription drug plan fairer and more cost effective. In the closing days of the 109th Congress, it is an opportunity we can't afford to miss.
I look forward to your reply. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
House Democratic Leader