A chance for real relief from high drug prices

Allowing Medicare to negotiate prices would lower costs by up to 55%

Amid the ongoing healthcare debate in Washington, the House of Representatives will soon consider game-changing legislation that would provide real relief from the high costs of prescription drugs.

Named after the late representative from Baltimore and co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Pappas, D-1st Dist., the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act would reduce the prices of prescription drugs nationwide. The bill will give Medicare leverage to negotiate for lower drug prices for anyone with insurance, lowering drug prices by up to 55% and saving American patients $158 billion.

But while H.R. 3 would improve the lives of thousands of Granite Staters by lowering costs and expanding access to lifesaving medications, it faces opposition from the president and some Republican members of Congress.

That opposition comes as no surprise, since these lawmakers have taken serious money from large pharmaceutical companies. Though Trump made a campaign promise to allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies, his administration has failed to do so.

There is much at stake for all in this bill. This plan will stop unjustified price gouging for thousands of medications, including basic ones like insulin. Not only will those on Medicare benefit from the projected savings, but the lower prices would apply to anyone purchasing drugs no matter how they are insured. Prices would go down for those who get insurance from employers and those who buy it directly from insurance companies.

Whether you’re a child with asthma, a teen with diabetes, or a young parent with a rare illness, this bill will bring drug prices down for everyone.

No longer will drug companies be allowed to charge Americans double and triple the price for the same prescription drugs as others pay around the world, and they would be penalized if they keep the system rigged and their prices high.

 

It’s no surprise, then, that the pharmaceutical industry has launched an aggressive campaign to defeat the bill. Drug companies are spending millions of dollars and have deployed hundreds of lobbyists to prevent its passage.

The bill is popular with the American people, though. A recent poll by Hart Research shows that a majority of Americans across the political spectrum support H.R. 3. And the bill has the numbers to back it up, too: The Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare (Office of the Actuary) confirmed that H.R. 3 will reduce drug prices by up to 55% and save patients and taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few years. It will save consumers approximately $158 billion over the next few years and save taxpayers $345 billion.

With the bill on its way to the House floor for a vote, both Reps. Annie Kuster and Pappas are leading the fight to pass it. Time and again, Americans rank healthcare costs — specifically prescription drug costs — as the number one issue they care about, and now their representatives in Congress are taking action on it. With our congressional representatives’ support, New Hampshire residents will have greater access to the prescription drugs needed to treat various health conditions without worrying about whether or not they can afford it.

The big drug companies have spent billions to rig the system to keep prices high and their profits going up. For too long, too many New Hampshire families have stayed up at night worrying about rising prescription drug prices and choosing between getting their medication or paying their rent. That ends with this bill.

Jayme Simoes of Protect Our Care NH lives in Concord.

Categories: Opinion

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