House Democrats call for Part D negotiations

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 17, 2011

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A group of 78 House Democrats is urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to allow the Medicare program to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Democrats on Oct. 5 sent a letter to the committee in support of legislation that gives the Dept. of Health and Human Services the authority to discuss bulk rates with drug manufacturers. Doing so would save the government $156 billion over 10 years, said Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D, N.Y.), one of the group's organizers. "This is the right thing to do, and I think we may have a chance to get it done through the ongoing negotiations over reducing our national debt."

However, Republican lawmakers and conservative groups oppose the idea. The pharmaceutical industry has also opposed government negotiated rates, noting the private Part D plans create market competition to keep prices low while maintaining patient choice.

On Oct. 5, the conservative nonprofit American Action Network announced it would spend $1.6 million on advertising against the Democratic initiative. "This plan would result in higher premiums and higher prescription drug costs for millions of older Americans," said Brian Walsh, president of the network.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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