MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICE NEGOTIATION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - January 12, 2007)
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Mr. BOEHNER. Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Louisiana for yielding and thank my colleague from Maryland for his comments.
I rise today in opposition to the plan being put forward that I think would bring government cost controls to a program that is widely popular and is working. We all know that, about 4 years ago, Congress passed a prescription drug benefit for seniors. In that bill, we make it clear that this benefit is to be provided by the private sector, and some 40 plans across the country are out there competing with different types of plans for seniors with different needs. And so the number of choices out there is overwhelming, but the fact is that the number of plans out there are also bringing competition; competition for better quality drugs, more access to drugs, bringing down the cost of this program by 30 percent. The program costs 30 percent less than what we thought it would cost when Congress passed it.
More importantly, some 80 percent of seniors appreciate their plan. They have a choice of their doctor; the doctor has the choice of prescriptions that they can offer to their beneficiary, to their patient; and the patient can go to their local pharmacy, they can talk to their local pharmacist, which all those choices are probably why we have an 80 percent approval rating for this program.
So what do we have here today? We have here today that says the government must go out and negotiate directly with drug companies. The fact is these 40 different plans that are operating around the country have been negotiating with drug plans over these last several years. Why do we think the cost has come down? It is that competition in the marketplace.
And I appreciate my colleagues on the other side for their ideas that the government ought to go out and directly negotiate this. It is one of those big dividing issues that we have between Members here in Congress. Some believe strongly that government ought to do it. Government ought to do it. We ought to order government to do it. While many of us believe that competition, competition and using free market principles will in the long run produce better results, lower costs, higher quality and more satisfaction among seniors. And that is exactly what we have seen with this plan.
Many people believe that the plan here would begin to look something like the plan that we have over at the Veterans' Administration where they do in fact negotiate with drug companies, although veterans that are taking those benefits have one-third the choice of drugs available to them that Medicare recipients have. I don't think there is anything we want to do today that would limit the ability of doctors to prescribe the correct drugs for their patients.
Secondly, the veterans' program in many cases requires the prescription to be delivered by mail order. Now, this is a growing move in the marketplace, but a lot of seniors want to go talk to their pharmacists, and I and many believe that the passage of this bill could lead to less choices for our seniors when it comes to where they get their drugs.
And so Republicans will offer a motion to recommit that simply says that we should not reduce the choices available to seniors, they ought to have those choices, and they should not be reduced at all; and secondly, that they should also have a choice in terms of where they get their drugs. Those are the two issues in the motion to recommit.
And so I would urge my colleagues to reject the idea of big government price controls and to support the motion to recommit that will in fact preserve choices for our seniors who rely on this very important program.
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