I urge you to co-sponsor and support Medicare prescription drug reform legislation (S. 2342, HR 752) that will simplify the drug benefit for seniors, save taxpayers significant amounts of money by letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, and ultimately close the dreaded "donut hole" coverage gap.
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As you are surely aware, when Congress approved the Medicare drug benefit, it specifically prohibited the government from negotiating lower prices for seniors. During this time of budget deficits, harnessing the government's purchasing power to lower costs for our nation's seniors makes perfect sense. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently negotiates lower prices for its beneficiaries, saving up to half the retail cost of medicines. Why wouldn't Congress try to get the best deal on prescription drugs for seniors and taxpayers, too?
These savings could be used to fill in the so-called "donut hole" coverage gap in Medicare Part D, which likely will force millions of seniors and disabled to go without needed medicines or forgo other basics to pay for their drugs. As you know, in most plans once a beneficiary and Medicare spend a total of $2,250 in a calendar year, the beneficiary then must pay the next $2,850 in drug costs out of their own pocket before coverage kicks in again.
The Medicare drug benefit is also extremely confusing for seniors, due to the scores of private plans from which they must choose. And these plans can raise their prices at any time, even though beneficiaries are locked into a plan for a year.
S. 2342 and HR 752 will help make the Medicare drug benefit much simpler, affordable and effective by offering an alternative -- a Medicare-operated drug plan that will allow price negotiation and have predictable premiums, co-pays and a dependable list of covered drugs. By offering a Medicare drug plan in addition to the private plans, seniors will have the peace of mind of more stable, cost-effective coverage and taxpayers could save billions of dollars.
Please co-sponsor these bills and support passage of these important health-care measures for our nation's seniors and all taxpayers.