Pharmaceutical companies and their allies are pouring millions of dollars into advertising fighting legislation in Congress that would lower U.S. drug costs. The ads portray legislative efforts in Congress, as “foreign price controls,” but the TSCL Senior Survey indicates that a wide swath of older Americans strongly support several of the proposals under consideration.
Legislation in the House would give Medicare the authority to negotiate by basing drug prices on those paid in other developed countries such as Canada, Austria, and Germany. One example is Humira, a brand name arthritis drug. In 2015 it cost $2,669 a month in the U.S. while the list price in the UK was $1,362. This approach to reducing drug costs has the support of 72% of TSCL Senior Survey participants.
The bipartisan Senate bill, The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019, co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and Ron Wyden (OR), would also lower drug prices by requiring pharmaceutical companies to provide rebates to Medicare when list prices increase by more than the rate of inflation. In addition, for the first time, it would establish an annual limit on out-of-pocket drug costs for beneficiaries at $3,100. Seventy-eight percent of TSCL’s Senior Survey participants support the idea of capping out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs costs.
The affordability of prescription drugs is a major concern for older Americans. More than 51% of TSCL Senior Survey participants report spending at least $376 per month on healthcare costs and 20% say they spend more than $1,000. TSCL is delivering letters to the office of every Member of Congress sharing these results from our Senior Survey, and voicing support for passing prescription drug legislation NOW!
To learn more about recent proposals, and the impact on both Medicare and beneficiaries, here is a policy brief prepared by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.