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New Report: Allowing the Government to Negotiate Medicare Drug Prices Would Save Taxpayers $30b Annually

Grassroots Coalition Kicks-Off Campaign To Urge Senators To Take Action

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2007  -- Taxpayers across the country would save $30 billion in prescription drug costs if the federal government were directed to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over Medicare drug prices, according to a new report released today by the Institute for America's Future.

With 85 percent of the country favoring the use of Medicare's collective bargaining power to lower prescription drug prices, Americans are using the Congressional recess to push for the elimination of a controversial provision in The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 that prohibits the government from interfering in negotiations between Part D plan participants and drug makers. House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were joined by several Republicans in passing legislation to remove the provision in January. Now senate leaders are pushing for a vote following the congressional recess.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., joined Campaign for America's Future co-director and report co-author Roger Hickey on a conference call with reporters today to release the new report. Sen. Stabenow said there's no excuse for gouging older Americans who depend on prescription drugs to live with extra costs. "When so many Americans struggle to pay for the prescription drugs they need, it doesn't make sense to prohibit the federal government from negotiating the lowest possible drug prices on behalf of the 44 million seniors and people with disabilities who rely on Medicare," said Sen. Stabenow. "The Senate must act to provide Medicare recipients the access to affordable prescription drugs they need and deserve."

Hickey described a renewed campaign, led by the Change America Now (CAN) Coalition, to get the Senate to act, noting that the time for action is now.

"Drug prices are too expensive and the savings from negotiating prices are too great to ignore," said Hickey. "Activists across the country are holding Congress' feet to the fire. Congress needs to step up to the plate to lower prescription drug prices. The House has taken the first step. It's time for the Senate to follow suit."

The CAN Coalition was created by the Campaign for America's Future, Americans United For Change and USAction to help push Speaker Pelosi's "100 Hour Agenda" through the U.S. House with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. The coalition is now turning its attention to the U.S. Senate. CAN plans to release reports and run grassroots activities in dozens of states, demanding to know what position senators will take on negotiating drug prices. States where CAN will be asking tough questions include Minn., Ore., N.H., Ohio, Maine and Pa.

Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director and report co-author Dean Baker, also joined Sen. Stabenow and Hickey on today's call. Baker said it's time to undo the self-serving provisions of the past.

"We can provide this benefit at a much lower cost to both older Americans and the government, with less bureaucracy for beneficiaries," said Baker. "As a nation, we must first put the interests of seniors ahead of the interests of the drug companies."

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CONTACT: Toby Chaudhuri or Noreen Nielsen at 202-955-5665

**NOTE: An electronic copy of the report released today by the Campaign for America's Future is available at **


Posted: April 2007