Commentary: U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at reducing the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs.
“Skyrocketing prescription drug prices have been squeezing families and seniors across New Mexico for far too long,” said Senator Udall. “New Mexicans shouldn’t have to choose between life-saving treatments and putting food on the table. We must act now to provide a meaningful solution so that our health care system is no longer at the mercy of corporate executives padding their bottom line. This legislation would rein in out-of-control drug prices by increasing competition and lowering costs so that families and seniors across New Mexico can get access to the safe and affordable medications they need to stay healthy and strong.”
“We need to address the soaring cost of prescription drugs in our country,” said Senator Heinrich. “New Mexicans shouldn’t have to choose between paying for medication and paying for other necessary expenses, such as food and rent. I am committed to working to find real solutions for this problem and moving forward common-sense reforms that will finally bring down the cost of prescription drugs.”
The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, led by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), would allow patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import safe, affordable medicine from Canada and other major countries. The bill would instruct the secretary of Health and Human Services to put forward regulations allowing wholesalers, pharmacies and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs from licensed Canadian sellers. After two years, the secretary would have the authority to permit importation from countries in the Organizations for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with standards for the approval and sale of prescription drugs that are comparable to those in the United States.
The Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act, led by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would allow for Medicare to negotiate the best possible price of prescription drugs to cut costs for nearly 43 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Current law prevents Medicare from directly negotiating for lower drug prices, a practice regularly used to bring down prescription drug costs for the Veterans Administration. The bill would eliminate the “non-interference” clause that expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for better prices. In New Mexico, there are over 150,000 seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D.
A copy of the Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act is available here.