Bill to allow negotiating on drug prices reintroduced

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- More than 30 members of the U.S. Senate, including Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, have reintroduced a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.

According to a release, this could cut medication costs for some 43 million seniors who are enrolled in Medicare Part D.

“Medicare Part D enrolls over 43 million seniors nationwide, meaning that they have enormous bargaining power. However, seniors cannot utilize this power without a seat at the negotiating table,” said Warner. “This bill takes a commonsense step that will finally allow the government to use its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors on Medicare.”

“For years, I have pushed to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes,” added Kaine. “In the wealthiest nation in the world, our seniors should not have to choose between paying for their medication and putting food on the table or heating their homes.”

Current law forbids Medicare from negotiating lower prices from prescription drug companies.

The legislation introduced in the Senate would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate price discounts with drug companies for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program.

The bill would eliminate the “non-interference” clause of the Social Security Act that expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for better prices.

A version of the bill has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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