Rep. Andrews Backs Plan to Lower Medicare Prescription Drug Prices
Last week I voted in favor of HR 4, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007, but had some concerns for New Jersey seniors. Although I agree that Congress should authorize the Secretary of HHS to negotiate drug prices, I believe his authority should be limited so as to not disrupt areas where pharmacies are already obtaining the best deals for their customers. If our goal is to ensure that all seniors and individuals with disabilities are getting the best price possible in the Medicare program, then Congress should allow drug companies and pharmacies to continue to do so without government interference. The Secretary can then focus on drug prices that are artificially inflated by drug companies.
Furthermore, I am concerned about how HR 4 will affect various states' prescription drug assistance programs. For example, New Jersey provides drug coverage to over 200,000 low-income seniors through two programs known as the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled program (PAAD) and Senior Gold. PAAD pays for almost all medications not covered under Medicare Part D. It has been argued that if the language of HR 4 places a restriction on medications Part D will cover, the cost of the PAAD and the Senior Gold program will increase.
As the House and Senate negotiate a final version of the plan, I want to make sure that we do not end up restricting access to new medications, and give seniors the best possible price for their medications. I will continue to work for a better Medicare Part D, and a better plan to provide lower prescription drug prices to those who need them.