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Warner, Kaine & Colleagues Reintroduce Legislation to Cut Prescription Drug Costs For Seniors

WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Amy Klobuchar and their colleagues in reintroducing the Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act to allow Medicare to negotiate the best price of prescription drugs for seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Current law only allows for bargaining by pharmaceutical companies, not Medicare. By harnessing the bargaining power of the nearly 46 million seniors enrolled in the program, Medicare could negotiate bigger discounts from pharmaceutical companies. This bill is co-sponsored by 30 other senators, and a companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives. 

“No one should have to choose between putting food on the table and their prescription medication,” said the Senators. “This legislation would help combat the rising costs of prescription medications and ensure more Americans, including our most vulnerable, have access to quality, affordable health care.”  

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. By bargaining on behalf of nearly 46 million seniors, Medicare would be in a position to secure significant discounts and ensure enrollees are receiving the best prices. 

Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for making health care more affordable and reducing prescription drug prices. Both Senators supported congressional passage of the American Rescue Plan. The new law now caps health care premiums on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange at a maximum of 8.5 percent of household income for all families and includes funding to encourage states to expand their Medicaid programs to millions more Americans. Last week, Warner introduced the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2021, a bill supported by Kaine that would undo Trump-era rulemaking and guidance that, if fully enacted, would destabilize the ACA health insurance market, weaken protections for Americans with preexisting conditions, and increase costs for millions of individuals with quality health plans. Earlier this year Warner also introduced the Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 to expand health care coverage, reduce costs, and protect Americans with preexisting conditions. Kaine has recently reintroduced legislation to create a public option by expanding on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicare. In 2019, Kaine introduced the Biologic Patent Transparency Act to increase access to lower-cost drugs by making it easier for competitors to evaluate and plan for the development of generic versions of these drugs. Kaine also sent letters to three insulin manufacturers requesting information about recent price increases, how the revenue contributes to research and development, and what the companies are doing to help patients access affordable insulin. 

This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).