Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 awaiting Senate vote
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Last week, U.S. Senator Martha McSally announced her plan for lowering prescription drug costs.
As she’s hoping for bipartisan support for her bill, a 2019 healthcare bill may be inching closer to getting the job done.
The Lower Drug Costs Now Act, also known as H.R.3, passed in the House of Representatives with support from Republicans and Democrats.
Now, the bill only needs a vote in the Senate to go to President Trump's desk.
Liz Haskell is one of the 44 million Americans insured by Medicare.
At 65 years old, trips to the pharmacy have become routine as her health becomes more of a concern.
She said, “I had this persistent cough, I couldn’t talk to people because I would start coughing. So my doctor prescribed this hand inhaler. It worked, [and] after about a week, I stopped coughing.”
But, on January 1, when she went to refill her prescription, all of a sudden she says it was $365.
“I called the doctor and asked if [he] could prescribe something else because during my [Medicare] deductible I can not afford this medication," Haskell said.
She's no different than many senior citizens who struggle to afford their prescriptions.
However, H.R.3 would substantially lower drug costs for Arizonans by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate with drug companies.
Former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, Will Humble, says the bill would level the playing field and potentially lower prescription prices by 55%.
“The drug companies don’t want to have to negotiate directly with Medicare because right now they’ve got a captive audience and can charge whatever they want," Humble told News 11.
Adding, "It doesn’t make sense in a free market economy that buyers cant negotiate with sellers.”
H.R.3 would potentially benefit seniors like Haskell if it gets passed in the Senate.
Meanwhile, with no generics available on the market and no money for her expensive prescription, Haskell will have to find a remedy before her cough returns.
She said, “I’m going to try going to Mexico. But I’m one of the lucky ones, Mexico is just across the border and I can get drugs over there."
A couple of distinctions between H.R.3 and McSally’s bill:
- The Lower Drug Costs Now Act gives Medicare the power to negotiate on the most expensive drugs that are still under patent.
- H.R.3 also caps out of pocket costs at $2,000 rather than $3,100.