Senators Shaheen, Hassan, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Lower Prescription Drug Costs for Older Americans by Allowing Medicare to Negotiate Drug Prices

March 22, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined in introducing legislation to lower the costs of prescription drugs for older Americans by allowing Medicare to negotiate the best possible price when it pays for prescription drugs. Current law prohibits Medicare from bargaining for prices.  

“Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug costs is a common-sense solution to one of the most serious problems impacting Granite Staters and Americans across the country: sky-high drug costs. And this is especially concerning among our more vulnerable senior populations who live on fixed incomes. Congress can and should take action,” said Shaheen. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Klobuchar and this group of Senators to push forward meaningful legislation that would ensure seniors can afford the prescriptions they need to stay healthy without having to sacrifice other important personal finances.”

“Because Medicare can’t negotiate drug prices, older Granite Staters and Americans are needlessly over-paying for their prescription drugs,” said Hassan. “This legislation would finally allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices on behalf of the nearly 46 million older Americans who rely on Medicare for their lifesaving medication, leveraging Medicare’s buying power to directly reduce costs for seniors. We must address the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, and this bill would take long-overdue steps to do just that.”

The Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, eliminating the “non-interference” clause that expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for better prices. 

Senator Shaheen has led efforts across the aisle to lower health care costs for Granite Staters and Americans. She recently introduced the Ensuring Timely Access to Generics Act of 2021, which would tackle exorbitant prescription costs by increasing competition from generic drugs through better oversight of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) citizen petition process. She also reintroduced bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of health care by allowing individuals to import safe prescription drugs from Canada. Additionally, she helped spearhead a bipartisan effort to roll back over a decade of insulin price hikes through her Insulin Price Reduction Act. Last month, Shaheen introduced bipartisan legislation with Senators Cassidy (R-LA) and Baldwin (D-WI) to close the orphan drug loophole that drug companies use to keep cheaper, generic medication off the market and to rake in profits. Shaheen introduced the Biologic Transparency Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation to encourage competition in the prescription drug marketplace and put an end to the harmful patent strategies that block new drugs from coming to market. She reintroduced the End Taxpayer Subsidies for Drugs Ads Act in January to eliminate tax deductions that pharmaceutical companies use to pay for drug advertising, which ultimately increases consumer demand and gives companies leverage to increase their drug prices.

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