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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

H.R. 4, To Require HHS to Negotiate

August 5, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: I rise in strong support of H.R. 4, which requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.

American seniors are not getting the best possible prices for the drugs that keep them alive and in good health.  A study by Families USA shows that the median drug prices among Medicare plans for the top 20 drugs prescribed for seniors is increasing at a rate of 7.4% per year.  That's more than twice the rate of inflation.  These price increases are passed on to seniors in the form of higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

Clearly, the Medicare prescription drug program has not resulted in the lowest possible prices for seniors.  But it has resulted in record profits for drug companies.  In November, the New York Times reported that the Medicare prescription drug program has proven to be a bigger financial windfall for big drug companies than even the most optimistic of Wall Street predictions.

The Veterans Administration already negotiates with drug companies for lower drug prices for American veterans.  In the Families USA study, the lowest price charged by Medicare prescription drug plans for all 20 of the top drugs was always higher than the lowest price obtained by the Veterans Administration.

I am a great defender of our nation's veterans.  They have served our country with honor, and they deserve the lowest possible prices for their drugs.  But so do our nation's seniors.  There is no reason why the U.S. Government should negotiate lower drug prices for veterans and not for seniors.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I urge the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate in good faith for lower prescription drug prices for American seniors.

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