Legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate drug costs

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced that he has joined his colleagues to introduce legislation to strengthen the bargaining rights of seniors on the cost of prescription drugs.

The legislation permits Medicare to negotiate for lower prices on behalf of over 1.8 million Michiganders eligible for enrollment in Medicare Part D.

Currently, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies on drug costs. Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Michigan seniors shouldn’t be forced to decide whether to buy prescriptions or paying their bills,” said Senator Peters. “Giving Medicare the ability to bargain for lower costs is a commonsense and long overdue measure. By taking this step, we can ensure more Michiganders can afford their prescriptions.”

The Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act, which Peters introduced with 33 of his colleagues, aims to address rising prescription drug costs. According to a recent study, Medicare Part D average per capita costs are projected to increase by 4.7% annually through 2026.

The bill will allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to directly negotiate with drug companies on discounts for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program by eliminating the “non-interference” clause that expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for lower prices.

This would provide Medicare with similar bargaining power as the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has successfully lowered prices on a host of prescription drugs.