Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin today introduced legislation that would lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and increase the long term solvency of Medicare.
The Negotiating for Seniors Act would repeal the sweetheart deal made with big pharmaceutical companies during the creation in 2003 of Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program for seniors. Under the terms of that backroom deal, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is legally prohibited from negotiating lower prescription drug prices for seniors on Medicare. This special interest boondoggle hurts Wisconsin seniors and taxpayers.
"Protecting our seniors is a primary concern for me and has been ever since I cared for my grandmother in her later years," said Congresswoman Baldwin. "Through that experience, I learned, firsthand, the importance of Medicare to older Americans whose health care needs and prescriptions increase at the same time their financial resources are diminishing," she said.
Negotiating prescription drug prices has proven effective for decades in controlling prescription drug costs for America's veterans through the VA and for some of our most vulnerable citizens through Medicaid. Wisconsin's SeniorCare, a public option, is another successful example of a program that uses its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices. In 2010 alone, SeniorCare saved Wisconsin seniors $80 million.
Currently, the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that prohibits the government from negotiating the cost of prescription drugs for its senior citizens.
Baldwin's bill would require that all savings generated by negotiating the cost of prescription drugs go back into the Medicare program, thereby maintaining its solvency, strengthening it for current and future generations.
According to a 2008 report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, taxpayers would save approximately $156 billion over ten years should the HHS Secretary have the authority to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices.
In a letter to Congresswoman Baldwin, Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare wrote, "On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to express our support for the Negotiating for Seniors Act Our nation needs to find ways to lower overall health care expenditures without impairing the quality of care offered, and your legislation, if enacted, helps accomplish this."
Richtman thanked Baldwin for her commitment to protecting seniors and future generations from high drug costs saying, "We also appreciate that the Negotiating for Seniors Act would require the savings from prescription drug negotiations to go back into the Medicare program to help strengthen the program and maintain its long term solvency."