Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices — congressional leaders to allow it

© Getty Pharmacy technician getting bottle from shelf

For far too long, the pharmaceutical industry has dictated who in America has access to the medicines they need for their health and well-being – and who doesn’t, leaving millions of Americans in districts like mine to make impossible choices about their health care.

Already this year, drug companies have hiked the prices of 1,100 prescription drugs – more than 90 percent of which were above the rate of inflation. The largest single price hike for a prescription drug this month was nearly 16 percent, while inflation has risen slightly more than 2 percent.

The industry’s unchecked power to set and keep prescription drug prices high has resulted in one-in-three Americans skipping getting a refill of their prescription, while one-in-four Americans with diabetes have rationed insulin, risking their lives each time. I refuse to accept this as the status quo.

Big Pharma’s bottom line should never be more important than the health of my constituents in the 7th District, or the American people at large.

That’s why I recently organized a letter signed by 14 of my colleagues asking our leaders in the House and Senate to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, and include that language in the budget reconciliation bill currently being negotiated.

The drug corporations claim that enabling Medicare to negotiate prices would weaken Pharma’s ability to produce the medicines that people need. It’s a disingenuous argument from the most profitable industry in America, and one that the American people are smart enough to see right through.

Here’s the truth: giving Medicare the power to negotiate would lower the cost of prescription drugs for hardworking families, so that everyone has access to the medicines they need. It would also result in nearly half a trillion dollars in savings for taxpayers – money that we can invest in making health care more affordable for even more people.

Employers also stand to benefit from Medicare negotiating drug prices. According to a recent study by the West Health Policy Center, this negotiating power would lead to $195 billion in savings for businesses and $98 billion in savings for workers. We all benefit from reforms that put people, not Big Pharma, first.

It’s time we put people over profits and use our power to rein in high prescription drug prices for good.

And lowering prescription drug prices is incredibly popular: Nearly 90 percent percent of Americans support giving Medicare more negotiating power. President Biden understood this too when he urged lawmakers to “give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions by negotiating lower prices” back in April.

Asking American seniors and families to choose between basic necessities like rent and paying for prescriptions is not acceptable in a country as wealthy as our own. Instead of prioritizing this industry’s greed, it’s time to rein in their oppressive price gouging practices, once and for all.

We must give Medicare the power to lower prescription drug prices, for my constituents in the 7th District of Pennsylvania, and the millions more nationwide.

If my colleagues in Congress decide to put the health and well-being of the American people first before powerful interests, I am confident that we can succeed in lowering prescription drug costs for all families.

Susan Wild is a member of the House of Representatives from PA’s 7th District.

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