In just a few days, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on House Resolution 3 — legislation that would empower Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time and make lower drug prices available to all Americans with private insurance, not just Medicare beneficiaries.
At a press conference on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th District, expanded on the merits of the bill, saying it is significant and would help not only seniors, but also everyone that is worried about the cost of prescriptions drugs.
Pallone was joined by U.S. Reps. Donald Payne, D-10th District; Andy Kim, D-3rd District; and Mikie Sherrill, D-11th District
“In order to make sure that the price is not higher than what is paid for in six other countries that are comparable to the U.S., we say that the price that is negotiated can’t be any more than 120 percent of the price that exists in those six countries,” said Pallone.
The bill has a provision that also includes a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
“Because there is so much savings that comes from these price reductions both in the government and the commercial sector – we will see savings of about $500 to $600 billion. We are then reinvesting that money into expanding Medicare services for vision, dental, and hearing for the first time,” said Pallone.
Some of the savings would also be used to pay for additional community health centers, for research at National Institutes of Health and to reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income people.
Sherrill, who added the Biomedical Innovation Expansion Act to the bill, said that it would take some of the cost savings – $10 billion from H.R.3 – and put it back into NIH to help fund greater innovation that not only supports better results for people throughout the country, but also helps the industry in New Jersey.
“NIH is contributing to research associated with an echo system in North Jersey that really fuels the innovation across the country across the world great for ways of fighting disease,” said Sherrill.
Kim said that his bill, House Resolution 4671 – Helping Seniors Afford Health Care Act – that was incorporated into H.R. 3 is a great win for seniors because it will increase eligibility into the Medicare savings program and expand the number of seniors who can receive this type of support by millions and by thousands in New Jersey.
“It will help a lot of folks that are really struggling to be able to afford their health care on day to day level,” said Kim.
Payne said that because 650,000 New Jersey residents have diabetes, lowering the cost of some of these drugs is important.
Pallone said that the pharmaceutical industry has been opposed to any kind of negotiated prices.
“When we did Medicaid Part D, the reason why there was a provision called the non-interference clause that prohibited the secretary or the government from negotiating prices – is because they [big pharma] don’t want that. Their argument is that they should be able to charge what they want and that the government should not interfere. I don’t agree with that,” Pallone said.
“They can still make a profit with negotiated prices. We are not fixing the price, we are negotiating the price,” said Pallone who added, “We will take into consideration their profit margin. The only thing we have is a provision that says that the price that is negotiated can’t be any more than 120 percent of the price that exists in those six countries.”