WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is championing a bipartisan bill to lower prescription drug costs for Americans over the age of 65. The Senate Finance Committee, which Grassley leads as chairman, approved the plan Thursday on a bipartisan vote. The plan faces stiff resistance from the pharmaceutical industry and from some of Grassley’s fellow Republicans.
The bill calls for penalizing companies that raise prescription drug prices for seniors above the rate of inflation. Grassley says the “naysayers” are wrong to suggest the bill calls for price controls. “This bill will save taxpayers more than $100 billion, lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries,” Grassley said.
The measure would set a yearly $3100 dollar limit on what Americans on Medicare would have to pay — out-of-pocket — to cover the costs of their prescriptions. “I’ve heard from Iowans who have left prescriptions at the pharmacy counter or who have skipped doses of their medicine to save money,” Grassley said.
Grassley says no American should have to go bankrupt trying to pay for necessary medications. “We have jurisdiction over all Medicare and Medicaid, so what we do here today really matters to all the people who are affected by these programs,” Grassley said, “real people.”
The Trump Administration recently abandoned other proposals to curb prescription drug costs, including creation of an “index” to calculate drug prices based on what citizens in five other countries pay. A White House spokesman called Grassley’s bill an “encouraging” step. House Democrats are also crafting plans to address prescription drug costs and the two dozen Democrats running for president are offering their own ideas.