Good afternoon, and thank you to all the witnesses for joining us. I'm
pleased to have Senator Bill Nelson chair today's hearing on the effect of
high drug prices on America's seniors and the Medicare Part D program.
Senator Nelson is a valuable member of the Aging Committee, who hails
from a state that understands very well the unique challenges and
opportunities posed by an aging population. He has been a leader on this
issue and we're very happy to have him leading the charge for the Aging
Before I turn over the gavel, I want to make sure we all understand that
prices for brand name drugs are higher in this country than anywhere else in
the world. This affects seniors severely, both because they tend to need
more medications, and because of the doughnut hole in Medicare Part D,
which can cost individuals up to $4400 out of pocket every year.
But ultimately, the high price of drugs affects us all. Americans pay as much
as two to three times as much for the same medications as people in other
industrialized countries. This is one of the reasons health care costs are so
much higher in America.
I've written letters to the top six drug makers to find out why. Why must
American consumers pay so much more, when the bulk of drug research and
innovation happens here in the U.S and much of it is subsidized by the
federal government? The Aging Committee looks forward to taking a look at
the answers to these questions later this spring.
In the meantime, today's hearing is getting at an ongoing issue that is
crucial to our seniors. I would like to thank Senator Nelson for all his work
on closing the doughnut hole. I'll now turn over the gavel.