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Markey Touts 'Uncle Sam's Club' To Lower Drug Prices For Seniors

Location: Washington, DC


Today, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, expressed his strong support for H.R. 4, the Bipartisan Rx Drug Negotiating Authority Bill, which will reduce health care costs and require the Secretary of Health and Human Service (HHS) to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. Under H.R. 4, Medicare has broad discretion to implement the negotiating authority and achieve price discounts for Medicare beneficiaries, much like the Veteran's Administration or other large organizations do for veterans and their members.

Markey said, "Wal-Mart reduces costs for its members through Sam's Clubs - today, we're establishing an ‘Uncle Sam's Club,' to reduce the costs of prescription drugs for seniors. It is long past time for the HHS Secretary to use his negotiating power to help seniors avoid choosing between buying the drugs they need and paying for their rent or food."

The bipartisan prescription drug bill repeals the provision in current law that prohibits the HHS Secretary from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries. The bill requires the HHS Secretary to negotiate with drug companies on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. The lower negotiated prices are for drug plan years starting January 2008. The bill also requires timely updates from the Administration on the progress of this program. From June 1, 2007, and every six months thereafter, the bill requires the HHS Secretary to submit to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Committee on Finance a report on the negotiations conducted by the Secretary and on the prices and any price discounts achieved by the Secretary as a result of such negotiations.

Markey's prepared statement is below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4, The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act.

We've heard about how Wal-Mart reduces costs through the purchasing power of their "Sam's Clubs."

Well today we are establishing "Uncle Sam's Club", a smart way of pooling the enormous purchasing power of the Medicare program and enabling the Secretary to drive down the cost of prescription drugs through negotiation.

Fortune 500 companies and large pharmacy chains all across the country negotiate for better drug prices on behalf of their patients.

It is now time for the Secretary of HHS to do the same on behalf of millions of seniors in the Medicare program.

When the Republicans passed their prescription drug bill, they explicitly prohibited the Secretary of HHS from negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry to get better drug prices for seniors.

They seem to have forgotten that the government is supposed to work for the public interest, not the special interests. Unfortunately, it has become necessary to remove that giveaway to the special interests and remind the Secretary of his public interest obligations. In this bill we REQUIRE the Secretary to work on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities to make sure they get the best possible deal on prescription drugs.

The Republican's prescription drug bill has failed to get the cost of prescription drugs under control. Last year drug prices rose at twice the rate of inflation.

he Medicare prescription drug act was supposed to help seniors pay for their prescription drugs, but instead it became a means to keep drug prices and company profits at record high levels.

It is long past time for the Secretary to use his negotiating power to help seniors avoid choosing between buying the drugs they need and paying for their rent or food.

Vote for your constituents for a change. It is good medicine. Vote for HR 4

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