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Rep. Berman Votes to Require Medicare to Negotiate with Drug Companies for Lower Drug Prices

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Berman Votes to Require Medicare to Negotiate with Drug Companies for Lower Drug Prices

Today, Rep. Howard Berman voted to cut the cost of health care and improve access to medicines by requiring HHS to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.

The House passed the bill this afternoon by a vote of 255 to 170.

"The 2003 Medicare Rx Drug Law that created the prescription drug program included a provision, sought by big drug companies, that prohibited Medicare from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices for seniors," stated Rep. Berman. "The bill we passed here today repeals this special-interest provision - this gift to the drug companies. Instead, the bill requires Medicare to conduct such cost-saving negotiations."

"Currently, the only entity in this country that cannot bargain for lower group drug prices is Medicare," Rep. Berman said. "The states, Fortune 500 companies, and large pharmacy chains all use their bargaining clout to obtain lower drug prices for the patients they represent. HHS should have the same ability for Medicare beneficiaries."

This bill provides Medicare broad discretion on how to best implement the negotiating authority and achieve price discounts for Medicare beneficiaries.

"This bill is critically needed," stated Rep. Berman, "because the current Medicare prescription drug law has failed to slow the rapid growth in drug prices. A study by Families USA has shown that the prices charged by Medicare drug plans are rising at more than twice the rate of overall inflation."

Rep. Berman added, "I hope that the Senate quickly passes this bill and the President signs it into law. Public opinion polls show that more than 90 percent of the American public believes that HHS should have this authority to negotiate for lower drug prices and wants this bill enacted."

Rep. Berman pointed out that the bill is supported by dozens of organizations, including AARP, National Community Pharmacists Association, Association of Community Pharmacists, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Medicare Rights Center, Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, Families USA, and Consumers Union.

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