Issue Position: Prescription Drugs
America has over 40 million elderly and disabled Americans who rely on prescription medication to maintain their way of life. Over the past few years, prescription drug costs have skyrocketed and I believe a real prescription drug benefit plan for seniors is long overdue.
Unfortunately, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA) signed into law by the President, P.L. 108-173, does little to help seniors. It does not address the astronomical cost of prescription drugs, leaves a huge coverage gap, and penalizes those who did not sign up before May 15, 2006.
To help seniors with the Medicare and prescription drugs, I have introduced the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 2685) which would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to achieve discounts for Medicare beneficiaries. I've also introduced the Medicare Prescription Drug Flexibility for Seniors Act (H.R. 4410) which would extend the initial enrollment period by 2 years, allow beneficiaries to change plans if the plan sponsor alters its formulary, and penalizes retirement health plans that provide misleading information about their coverage. Finally, if the federal government isn't permitted to negotiate on behalf of its citizens, I support prescription drug importation so that seniors can go elsewhere to obtain less expensive medicine.
The following are bills I have cosponsored:
The Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act (H.R. 752) to create a nationwide prescription drug plan to be run by the Secretary of Health and Human Services;
the Medicare Informed Choice Act (H.R. 3861) to extend the deadline for choosing a plan until the end of 2006;
the Medicare Prescription Drug Emergency Guarantee Act (H.R. 4685) to increase seniors' ability to change plans and reimburse states and entities which covered the cost of drugs during the initial enrollment period;
the Medicare Drug Formulary Protection Act (H.R. 5102) to prevent prescription drug plans from removing a drug from their formulary until the open enrollment period;
the Choice for America's Seniors Act (H.R. 5116) to extend the initial enrollment period by 6 months, suspend the late enrollment fee for 2006, permit beneficiaries to change enrollment once a year, and prevent arbitrary changes in formularies.