Michigan Sen. Stabenow presents legislation to lower Rx prices

debbie stabenow
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) recently unveiled new legislation aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs during an event at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.

Americans pay—by far—the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Prices for the most popular brand-name drugs have risen 208% from 2008 to 2016, according to AARP.

“I continue to stand up to the drug lobbyists and special interests because it is morally wrong to keep prices for your medications so high,” said Senator Stabenow. “The passage of my legislation would make a major difference for Michigan families.”

“As the largest rural health care provider in the state, Munson Healthcare is concerned about the rising costs of pharmaceuticals and the impact these costs have on the patients we serve. Annually, prescription drug costs account for approximately 9 percent of Munson Healthcare’s operating expenses, with unanticipated price changes directly impacting the cost of care,”said Edwin A. Ness, president and CEO of Munson Healthcare. “We do our best to provide assistance to our patients to offset these costs, including participating in the successful 340B drug discount program, which provides more than $10 million in annual savings that are used to offset the cost of drugs as well as offer services not otherwise available in our region. Therefore, we support and thank Senator Stabenow for her efforts to address prescription drug costs at the national level and believe that if passed into law, this legislation would be good for the patients we serve.”

“As a member of the Northern Michigan Diabetes Initiative, which seeks to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and improve the care people with diabetes receive, I have seen firsthand the impact that high drug costs have on patients with diabetes in our region. We know that for certain types of diabetes, including Type 2, pharmacologic interventions are sometimes necessary to treat patients,” said James Whelan, M.D., Munson Healthcare medical director of Population Health. “However rising drug costs, decreasing insurance coverage, and an aging population all combine to create challenges in treating diabetes in our region. Therefore, we see the need to advocate for affordable prescription drug prices as part of our overall strategy of improving health outcomes for diabetes patients in northern Michigan and believe that Senator Stabenow’s legislation will help with this effort.”

Pharmaceutial and health product lobbying reached $279 million last year, more than any other industry. Stabenow is announcing three pieces of legislation that will combat rising prescription drug costs:

  • The bipartisan Know the Lowest Price Act (S.2553) cracks down on outrageous gag clauses that stop pharmacists from telling customers that they could pay less for their prescription if they pay out of pocket.
  • The Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act (S.1688) would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts of their drugs under Medicare Part D, which is banned under current law.
  • And the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act (S. 469) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue regulations permitting wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies, and individuals to import drugs from licensed Canadian sellers that are manufactured at facilities inspected by the Food and Drug Administration. Currently, Americans pay about 40 percent more on prescriptions per person than Canadians do.

More details on Senator Stabenow’s prescription drugs legislation may be found here.