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For Immediate Release
December 9, 2019

Contact: Kata Kertesz, Esq. – kkertesz@medicareadvocacy.org, 202-293-5760

The Center for Medicare Advocacy, leading Medicare beneficiary experts, call on Congress to pass groundbreaking legislation to empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower the price of prescription drugs. Done primarily on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) would require pharmaceutical companies to make the lower negotiated prices available to all people with insurance. The bill is expected to come to the House floor this week, and stands a good chance of passage.

The cost savings to the Medicare program are projected by the Congressional Budget Office to be approximately $500 billion over the next ten years. Most of these savings would be reinvested in added benefits and cost reductions for consumers. Such reinvestments will also plug critical gaps in benefits, including a lack of dental, hearing, and vision coverage, as well as adding important Medigap enrollment rights, and low-income protections.

Out-of-pocket costs for co-pays and drugs have been rising rapidly and the burden falls particularly hard on low-income people with Medicare. HR-3 would cap out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 per year, providing protection from exorbitant pharmaceutical pricing.

“This is an historic opportunity to take bi-partisan action to improve the lives and health of Americans, particularly those in a daily struggle to pay for needed, life-sustaining medications,” said Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA). “We’ve long advocated for this crucial change that will not only help all Medicare beneficiaries, but also those with private insurance,” she added.

“For too long, Americans have carried the burden of excessive prescription drug prices as manufacturers inflate the prices of products sold in the U.S. while simultaneously selling the same drugs overseas at significant discounts. This must stop; HR-3 is a great beginning,” according to Stein.

“Investing in traditional Medicare means all beneficiaries will benefit from these important enhancements,” said Stein. “These improvements will strengthen the traditional program, not just private Medicare Advantage plans as has so often been the case. Further, the Medigap improvements in the bill and new coverage for dental care, audiology, and vision will enhance the health and quality of life for millions of older people, people with disabilities, and families.”

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The Center for Medicare Advocacy (www.medicareadvocacy.org) is a national, nonprofit, non-partisan law organization that works to advance access to comprehensive Medicare coverage and quality health care for older people and people with disabilities through legal analysis, education, and advocacy.

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