Medicare Prescription Drug Policies

In 2016, Part D premiums rose by 13 percent, and Part D deductibles experienced the largest increase since the start of the program. In addition, spending on prescription drugs grew by 12 percent nation-wide, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A rate that high hasn’t occurred since 2001.

Improving and maintaining access to affordable, lifesaving prescription drugs is a top concern for TSCL’s members and supporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes and cannot afford steep and sudden cost increases. In a recent survey of TSCL’s members, as many as one-third of respondents said they postponed filling their prescriptions or took less than prescribed due to high costs. They question why Congress hasn’t taken action to improve the system and to protect the American public from rising drug costs.

To address the flaws of the prescription drug industry, TSCL supports common-sense solutions like the following five: allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate Part D prices, closing the Part D gap in coverage or “doughnut hole,” prohibiting anti-competitive pay-for-delay deals, strengthening penalties for companies convicted of fraud, and increasing price transparency for prescription drugs.

In addition, TSCL supports legislation that would make safe and secure prescription drug re-importation a reality. Unfortunately, despite bipartisan support, lawmakers in past health care reform debates have rejected amendments that would have allowed individuals to safely and securely import prescription drugs from approved pharmacies abroad. We will work to ensure that such legislation is adopted in the 115th Congress.

Finally, TSCL supports efforts to increase and improve outreach to seniors, especially those individuals that could qualify for the Extra Help program. Simplifying and streamlining the application process would be a vast improvement to the program. In the months ahead, TSCL will continue to seek out solutions that would increase access to innovative, lifesaving prescription drugs. The goal remains to ensure safe and affordable medicines for all Americans.

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