Dr. Ruiz Pushes for Lower Prescription Drug Costs for Seniors, Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) is calling for common-sense solutions to bring down the price of prescription drugs for seniors and families across the country. During a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, Dr. Ruiz told the story of a Beaumont constituent, who pays expensive out-of-pocket costs for his necessary heart medication. You can watch Dr. Ruiz’s remarks during today’s Committee hearing here.
“David, a senior from Beaumont, California in my district contacted my office recently to tell me about the heart medications his doctor wants to prescribe, of which there are no generic alternatives,” Dr. Ruiz said in the hearing. “The medication is so expensive that after the first three months of the year, David goes into the donut hole, where he will remain for the rest of the year, paying $3,294 in nine months just for his heart medications. For seniors living on a fixed income, this is not affordable and is not acceptable. Individuals and their doctors should choose the treatment based on what is best for the health of the patient, not primarily on whether the patient can afford to pay for the drug out of pocket.”
Drug prices and spending in the United States are disproportionately higher than in similarly developed countries. A recent Rand Corporation study that analyzed multiple markets and drug subsets found that prices in the United States were 256 percent higher, on average, than in 32 other countries with comparable economies.
“America can and must do better,” Dr. Ruiz continued. “Health care is a right for everyone, and access to prescription medication should not be reserved as a privilege only for the wealthy few.”
Today’s hearing, entitled Negotiating a Better Deal: Legislation to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs, highlighted the need to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act.
This landmark legislation would give Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies, also making those prices available to Americans with private insurance. Specifically, the bill would:
- Help ensure Americans can get a fair price for the prescriptions they need by granting the Secretary of HHS the ability to directly negotiate drug prices for Medicare, capping Part-D annual out-of-pocket costs at $2,000; and creating penalties for price hikes that outpace inflation.
- Put U.S. prices on par with other countries where patients are often charged less for the same medications.
- Reinvest billions in innovation and research for new cures and treatments at the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and through other means.