President BidenJoe BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on ‘crusade to undermine our democracy’ US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack MORE’s speech announcing his American Families Plan reaffirmed his strong support for legislation to lower drug prices through Medicare negotiation. “Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices,” he said. “Let’s do it now.”
President Biden is right. After nearly two decades of rising drug prices under a system in which drug corporations can dictate prices of brand-name drugs, Americans need the relief they have been promised.
Millions of patients need help — patients like 62-year-old Lucinda in Richmond, Vt., who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since she was a teenager. To manage her symptoms, she was prescribed Simponi, methotrexate, and prednisone. The prices of these prescriptions have continued to increase each year since she was diagnosed as a teenager, coming to a total of $59,000 in 2019.
Lucinda’s story is not unique. Patients For Affordable Drugs has collected tens of thousands of stories of Americans who are skipping doses, cutting pills in half, rationing insulin, or choosing between paying the bills and buying the drugs they need. Americans are paying almost four times what people in other wealthy nations pay for the exact same brand-name drugs. As the president said, the time to act is now.
Democrats in the House of Representatives aren’t missing a beat. Last week, H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, was reintroduced. This bill would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices on behalf of all Americans, prevent price gouging, and direct more money to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for critical research to ensure innovation and new drug development.
H.R. 3 would limit the annual out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries to no more than $2,000, and would establish a top negotiated price for drugs at no more than 120 percent of the average of six other wealthy nations. The bill would penalize drug companies that increase prices faster than the rate of inflation.
The CEO of the trade association PhRMA recently complained that it should not be used as a piggy bank to fund other priorities. But it’s Big Pharma that has been using patients and taxpayers as piggy banks, raising prices at will to fund profits and trigger executive bonuses. Pharma’s chief lobbyist is right about one thing, however: America has other priorities. Every dollar we send to pharma in unjustified profits is a dollar we don’t have to tackle health care disparities, provide coverage to the uninsured, or fund research into new medicines aimed at improving public health instead of private profits.
H.R. 3 would support and protect innovation and new drug development by investing some of the expected savings into the world-class research funded through the NIH. The federal government is the primary source of basic research in biomedical sciences, and NIH funding is crucial to basic research that leads to the discovery of new drugs, as noted by the Congressional Budget Office. The most innovative new drugs are coming from investment by taxpayers through the NIH.
Most urgently, people are dying right now because they can’t afford the existing drugs they need. More than 1.1 million Medicare patients could die over the next decade because they cannot afford to pay for their prescriptions. If Medicare were empowered to directly negotiate prices with drug companies, there could be 94,000 fewer deaths annually just because people would be able to afford their drugs.
The reforms in H.R. 3 are widely supported. Ninety-three percent of Americans agree that Medicare should have the power to negotiate…