Terry Yates: Saving billions on prescription drugs


Published: Friday, December 6, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 6, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.

Congress needs to take action to pass prescription drug bills bottled up in committees. Why are some in Congress talking about Medicare cuts? Billions of dollars over the next decade can be saved on prescription drugs in three areas: Putting Medicare drugs out for bid, similar to what Veterans Affairs does; allowing importation and re-importation of safe prescription drugs; banning “pay for delay” of generic drugs.

There seems to be widespread, even bipartisan support in the 113th Congress for doing so, despite the huge campaign donations to both parties and thousands of lobbyists employed by the pharmaceutical industry. Eight bills have been introduced this session of Congress and one from the last needs to be reintroduced.

Foremost among these are these four bills: The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2013 (S.117) and H.R.1102, which would direct Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug firms the prices charged to Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage. This would mean more affordable prescription drugs for seniors and would save Medicare up to $156 billion over the next 10 years.

Passing the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act (S.214) would put an end to brand-name drug firms using “pay for delay” agreements to keep generic equivalents off the market.

Congress needs to re-introduce S-319 (112th) that would allow for the importation and re-importation of safe, lower priced prescription drugs from countries approved by the FDA. This would allow Americans access to more affordable drugs from these countries which are 35 to 55 percent lower than in the U.S.

We need to see some action in these areas. Surely our Congress can agree on passing such legislation, since these bills are all deficit-neutral and would generate savings to the government, while greatly benefiting everyone .

Terry Yates is the Florida grassroots leader for the National Retirees Legislative Network.

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