Rep. Baca Votes to Lower Drug Costs for Seniors and Disabled
Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto) voted today to cut the cost of health care and improve access to medicines by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
The House passed the bill (H.R. 4) this afternoon by a vote of 255 to 170.
Rep. Baca said, "When Republicans put together the 2003 law that created the prescription drug program, they included a provision to help big drug companies by prohibiting Medicare from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices for seniors. Today we are repealing this special-interest provision - this gift to the drug companies who are reaping record profits. Instead, the bill requires Medicare to conduct cost-saving negotiations."
Rep. Baca noted, "Currently, Medicare is the only entity in this country that cannot bargain for lower group drug prices. The states, Fortune 500 companies, and large pharmacy chains all use their bargaining clout to obtain lower drug prices for the patients they represent. HHS should have the same ability for Medicare beneficiaries."
This bill provides Medicare broad discretion on how to best implement the negotiating authority and achieve price discounts for Medicare beneficiaries.
"This bill is critically needed," stated Rep. Baca, "because the current Medicare prescription drug law has failed to slow the rapid growth in drug prices. A study by Families USA has shown that the prices charged by Medicare drug plans are rising at more than twice the rate of overall inflation."
Rep. Baca added, "I hope that the Senate quickly passes this bill and the President signs it into law. More than 90 percent of the American public believes that HHS should have this authority to negotiate for lower drug prices and wants this bill enacted."
The bill is supported by dozens of organizations, including AARP, National Community Pharmacists Association, Association of Community Pharmacists, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Medicare Rights Center, Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, Families USA, and Consumers Union.