U.S. House passes ambitious bill to lower prescription drug prices

December 13, 2019
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy 

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed “The Lower Drug Costs Now Act,” which would authorize Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies. The cost of prescription drugs is one of the greatest challenges impacting the health and well-being of patients. The California Medical Association (CMA) strongly supports this bill (HR 3), which is the most-effective federal effort to date to reduce the cost and improve access to life-saving medicines. 

California physicians are extremely concerned that patients cannot afford necessary medications that will improve their health and thus, delay or forego their prescriptions altogether. One in four patients report that they or another family member did not fill a prescription in the last year because of cost. Average out-of-pocket spending by traditional Medicare patients has reached $3,166 (2016).

Under the current Medicare program, drug manufacturers name their price while all other providers (hospitals and physicians) are subject to a government fee schedule. This proposal merely requires a negotiation between Medicare and the drug companies. 

Skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs are one of the main drivers of increased health care costs in the U.S. In 2016, total Medicare prescription drug spending reached $119 billion, more than double what was spent in 2007.  Drugs represent 19% of all Medicare spending.

CMA believes this bill will result in fairer prices for patients’ medications and ensure that seniors, many of whom lived on fixed incomes, will have access to the medicines they need.


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