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Time for Congress to negotiate drug discounts for seniors

House Needs to Bring Legislation to Floor Vote that
Will Fix Medicare Bill Flaws

Consumers Union Says Government Must Negotiate Drug Discounts for Seniors

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Gail Shearer, 202-462-6262
(Washington, D.C.) – Consumers Union is calling on House members to bring to the floor for a full vote the “Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act” to fix major flaws in last year’s Medicare legislation – including a provision that prohibits the federal government from negotiating drug price discounts on behalf of seniors.
“It makes no sense to prohibit the federal government from negotiating discounts on prescription drugs for Medicare, especially when those savings could be used to provide more comprehensive coverage to seniors and the disabled,” said Gail Shearer, CU director of health policy analysis.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX) and other House members are seeking a discharge petition to bring H.R. 3767 to the floor. If enough signatures are gathered, the bill – which has been held at the committee level – would be sent to the floor for a full vote.
H.R. 3767 would:
• Allow the federal government to negotiate substantial drug price discounts on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries;
• Provide a reliable, nationally uniform government option through the trusted Medicare program;
• Provide beneficiaries with more comprehensive coverage funded by savings that will result from the negotiated discounts.
“So far, the discount drug card program has produced only modest discounts, and many Medicare beneficiaries are reluctant to sign up because they find the program confusing,” Shearer said. She said the government has realized significant savings on drug prices through its Veterans Affairs pharmacy program, which has used the VA purchasing power to negotiate lower prices.
“The government has negotiated deep drug-price discounts for veterans, and has saved taxpayer dollars. Why won’t it do the same for seniors and the disabled?” Shearer said.
To read Consumers Union letter in support of the House petition, click here