Congress allows Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices with drug companies

More than 80% of Americans, including Republicans, Democrats and Independents, support this measure even after hearing Big Pharma’s arguments against it. While I’m not yet on Medicare, I will be in a decade and I know I’m not the only one when I say I would like to see improvements before I get there.

In my opinion, we haven’t seen many significant improvements for consumers using Medicare since its inception over fifty years ago. We have enabled providers to make more money, not people to save money on the care they need. We need to expand Medicare as soon as possible. It would be an investment in the people of our country and in our communities.

As someone who didn’t have health insurance earlier in my life, I used to pay the full cost of asthma inhalers which cost between $ 75 and $ 100 per piece. And twenty years later, I have health insurance and still pay $ 50 per inhaler as a co-payment (with two different inhalers, that’s $ 1,200 per year, not including other needs).

In general, Medicare users spend an average of $ 1,200 per year on prescription drug costs and I already seem to be average. Often times, I found myself delaying the purchase of my next inhalers for as long as possible instead of taking my medications as my doctor ordered. There were also times when I had to make a difficult decision to pay bills or renew prescriptions. I am starting to wonder what my life will be like then and how I will be able to afford my own prescription drugs.

People with serious illnesses like cancer or heart problems can expect to spend a lot more with no end in sight. This is because there is no cap on the amount that patients will be billed. Medicare expansion legislation would also put a limit on how much a person can spend per year, and because the majority of those people have fixed incomes, that doesn’t make sense.

It is neither affordable nor sustainable when you also pay high premiums for plans that are supposed to be of excellent quality. Medicare users also pay for additional benefits through Medicare programs such as Parts B & D, which are supposed to offer better prices, but many people I have spoken to tell me they can get better. offers using a coupon through the “Good Rx” application or programs where they get drugs from other countries. We should give Medicare the right to negotiate better prices for the elderly and the disabled, as these are two groups that tend to need more prescription drugs and care than other populations.

If you watch TV in New Hampshire, you’ve probably seen the ads for “Voters For A Cure” that will make you think extending Medicare is a bad thing to do. When you dig deeper, you’ll find that this is a project of an organization called PhRMA, which is a trade association representing pharmaceutical companies. They are also one of the biggest spenders on lobbyists in Washington and they oppose this legislation that could improve the lives of so many people. A lot of money goes to give people the care they need and at times of their lives when they need it most.

Currently, PhRMA and their friends in Congress are working to water down Medicare negotiations to make them less effective and almost meaningless to consumers. The changes they want would allow them to exclude drugs that are still under patent from negotiation, and they want to remove the penalties they would face if they were unwilling to negotiate, which would create future abuses for the consumer. patent system.

Americans already pay three to four times as much as people in other countries for prescription drugs. When will Congress stand up to these drug companies and stop letting them take advantage of our pain and suffering?

We have often been told that pharmaceutical companies cannot lower the prices because they cannot afford the cost of research and development, and that will hamper innovation, but research shows that these companies do not spend as much. in research and development. compared to other things like marketing, lobbying, and share buybacks.

The expansion of Medicare could also provide hearing, dental and vision services which would be a crucial improvement in people’s lives, so we need to make sure that passes. There is an urgent need for you to call your representatives and senators in Congress today and urge them to continue pushing for legislation that would expand Medicare and allow it to negotiate drug prices, which will support Granite Staters. instead of pharmaceutical companies.

(Heather Stockwell is a statewide campaign organizer at Rights & Democracy NH.)

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