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December 13, 2019

US House Passes Bill To Help Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Credit: WFMD

Washington DC (KM) A bill which could lower drug prices for seniors is now before the US Senate. On Thursday, the US House of Representatives approved legislation  to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies on drug prices. “Medicare is not allowed to negotiate with drug corporations to keep drug costs low for American seniors. And that’s why Americans pay so much more than people in other countries for these drugs,”  says Vinny DeMarco, the President of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative.

If the bill becomes law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid would be required to negotiate prices for certain drugs, including insulin, and other medications which do not have generic competition. Right now, Medicare does not have that power. “And just makes no sense for Medicare not to be able to negotiate. The VA negotiates. Other countries negotiate with drug companies. Medicare needs to have that power,” he says.

Representative David Trone (D-Md) of the 6th Distinct issued a statement last week in support of this bill. “Marylanders and Americans are being ripped off by the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs, and it’s time we put an end to this corrupt practice,” Trone said in his  statement. “This bill will save everyday Americans money and allow us to invest in fighting the opioid epidemic and new innovative solutions at the NIH {National Institutes of Health}. H.R. 3 finally puts American people ahead of the interests of big drug companies.”

The bill is numbered HR 3.

Also in his statement, Representative Trone says if this legislation is passed and signed by the President, it could result in Marylanders paying 3.5 times less for insulin, and lower costs for breast cancer medication, leukemia medication and prostate cancer mediation by 65%, 71% and 66% respectively.

It now heads to the Senate where it’s fate is uncertain. In many instances, bills passed by the Democrat-Majority House of Representatives languishes in the Republican-controlled Senate where the Majority Leader doesn’t even bring them  up for debate and a vote. But DeMarco says citizens can change that at the ballot box. “This will be an election issue year next year. We hope that Americans all across the country will vote for President, members of the House and Senators who support Medicare negotiating with drug companies so we can get it done,” he says.

This particular bill is named the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Act Now. “It’s only appropriate that this new law is called the Elijah Cummings law because he did more than anyone else to bring this issue to the fore,” says DeMarco

Cummings died on October 17th, 2019 at the age of 68.