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Heinrich Introduces Legislation to Boost Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation, Lower Costs for Americans

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and 22 of their colleagues to introduce legislation to boost Medicare negotiation of drug prices to lower prescription drug costs for consumers. The Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act would give the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enhanced authority to negotiate for Medicare Part D.

“Last year, I was proud to join my Democratic colleagues as we took an important step to lower health care costs by empowering Medicare Part D to negotiate directly with drug companies,” said Senator Heinrich. “Now we need to go even further. That’s why I am supporting this legislation to build on our momentum and make prescription drugs more affordable to all seniors enrolled in Medicare.”

The Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act builds on a provision that was included in the Inflation Reduction Act to empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for the first time, unleashing the power of Medicare’s 50 million seniors to help lower drug prices for all Americans.

The new bill would specifically allow prescription drugs and biologics to be eligible for negotiation five years after approval by the Food and Drug Administration and increasing the overall amount by which Medicare can lower prices through negotiation. The SMART Prices Act would also lower Medicare Part B drug prices through negotiation two years earlier than under current law, and increase the overall number of drugs that HHS can negotiate starting in 2026.

“Last year, we took significant steps towards bringing down prescription costs when provisions based on my bill to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices were signed into law. But there’s still more we can do to build on this progress,” said Senator Klobuchar. “By strengthening Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices, our legislation will lower prescription costs on even more drugs and save taxpayers money. I’ll keep working to ensure all Americans can reliably access the affordable, life-saving medications they need.”

“Far too many Vermonters struggle to pay for the prescription drugs they need,” said Senator Welch. “Last Congress, Senator Klobuchar and I successfully championed historic prescription drug price negotiation provisions within the Inflation Reduction Act. I’m proud to continue the fight – and our partnership – by introducing the SMART Prices Act. This bill will build on our wins in the Inflation Reduction Act and give Medicare the ability to negotiate the price of more prescription drugs and lower the cost of those drugs at a faster pace.”

The SMART Prices Act is also cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The legislation is endorsed by the Center for American Progress, Families USA, Lower Drug Prices Now, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, Protect Our Care, and Public Citizen.

“The SMART Prices Act makes pivotal updates to the Medicare drug price negotiation provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act to make more drugs more accessible and affordable for more Medicare beneficiaries. By increasing the number of drugs to be negotiated each year, narrowing exceptions for many high-price drugs based on the time since their FDA approval, and lowering maximum fair price ceilings, Medicare drug price negotiation can be an even more effective tool for helping seniors access the medications they need,” said Nicole Rapfogel, health policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.