WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined in cosponsoring legislation led by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to unleash the bargaining power of seniors for a better deal on prescription drug costs. The legislation would allow for Medicare to negotiate the best possible price of prescription drugs to cut costs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Current law prevents Medicare from directly negotiating for lower drug prices, a practice regularly used to bring down prescription drug costs for the Veterans Administration. In New Mexico, there are over 150,000 seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D.
“This bill will enable New Mexico seniors to get a better deal on the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy,” said Udall. “I’m committed to working to find common-sense solutions, like this legislation, to lower the price of life-saving prescription drugs for New Mexicans and people across the United States.”
“When it comes to the soaring costs of prescription drugs for seniors, there’s nothing more effective that we could do then to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices,” said Heinrich. “Changing the law so Medicare is no longer banned from negotiating the best possible price of prescription drugs for seniors is a no-brainer. Older New Mexicans struggling to afford the medication they are prescribed deserve better.”
The legislation would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, eliminating the “non-interference” clause that expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for the best possible prices. By harnessing the bargaining power of nearly 41 million seniors, Medicare could negotiate bigger discounts with the pharmaceutical companies.
In February, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Angus King (I-ME) to introduce the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act that will help lower the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs by allowing Americans to import safe, low-cost medicine from Canada.
A copy of the bill is available here.