House Democrats Push for Medicare Part D Price Controls

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A proposed legislative measure, introduced by Rep. Peter Welch (D, VT), aims to reduce prescription drug costs for Medicare patients by enabling price negotiation.

Led by Rep. Peter Welch (D, VT), a coalition of 61 House members is attempting to generate support for a new bill that could benefit pharmacies, seniors, and taxpayers by lowering prices for Medicare Part D prescription drugs.

Introduced March 3, the bill contains legislation that would grant the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the power to negotiate with drug companies for discounts, rebates, and other allowances on behalf of Medicare Part D participants. The measure, backed primarily by Democrats, indicates a shift from the previous administration’s policy, which prevented government entities from imposing price controls on the pharmaceutical industry.

In an announcement on Welch’s official blog, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-MN) is quoted criticizing the current arrangement, calling it “a bad deal for seniors and a bad deal for taxpayers.” By implementing a new policy that requires drug companies to negotiate with HHS for lower prices, the bill’s sponsors believe the government could save as much as $156 billion in 10 years.

The proposal of the price negotiation bill preceded yesterday’s announcement by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), thanking the Senate for passing similar pro-pharmacy legislation.

The latest bill, which advanced through the Senate by a vote of 62-36, exempts pharmacies from the extensive accreditation process previously required to distribute durable medical equipment to seniors. Its passage represents a success for NACDS, whose recent advocacy efforts have focused on expanding pharmacy services for Medicare beneficiaries.

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