Undercurrent

Cortez Masto, Klobuchar co-sponsor bill to let Medicare negotiate drug prices

By: - January 14, 2019 10:59 am
kaiser poll

Kaiser Family Foundation

kaiser poll
Kaiser Family Foundation

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto announced Monday that she and fellow Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have introduced legislation authorizing the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices.

“Skyrocketing prescription drug costs are restricting Nevada’s seniors from accessing and affording their medicine,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “This legislation allows the largest purchaser of prescription medications, Medicare, to negotiate drug prices and to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the rising prices of prescription drugs. Congress must work together in a bipartisan way to ensure that seniors in Nevada, and across the country, can afford the medications they need.

Legislation passed during the George W. Bush administration included a “non-interference clause,” under which the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid and Medicare, “may not interfere with the negotiations between drug manufacturers.”

In other words, individual private plan providers within Medicare can negotiate prices, but government can’t.

Critics for years have attempted to change the law to allow the government to negotiate prices, arguing that not only would it contain prices for Medicare recipients, but help bring down drug prices throughout the health care system. Opponents contend that if the government uses the size of the Medicare market to leverage lower prices, pharmaceutical company revenue would decline, and that would stifle investment in new drugs.

Polling has found overwhelming public support for allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

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