Matheson: Seniors Deserve Affordable Drugs
.-Congressman Jim Matheson said today the government should be allowed to seek more affordable prescription drug prices for seniors on Medicare, within free market principles. Matheson voted for H.R. 4 - the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act.
Matheson supported the Medicare prescription drug bill of 2003. He said he's pleased that the bill helped more Utahns with their drug coverage needs, including low-income seniors with very high medicine costs.
The 2003 bill prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from trying to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries under Medicare Part D. This bill removes that prohibition and it requires the Secretary of HHS to report to Congress every six months on its efforts.
"I believe the legislation we are considering today is another measure that will likely provide more affordable medicines for those who need them. That remains my priority," said Matheson. "As a believer in the free market, I also think that consumers benefit when competition dictates the going rate for products."
Matheson noted that in 2006, 242,000 Utahns signed up for Medicare Part D. It was the first time in Medicare's 40-year history that the government has helped people 65 years or older, as well as disabled Americans, pay for their prescription drugs. Approximately 22,000 low-income seniors, who also qualify for Medicaid, were automatically enrolled in the program, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.