New bipartisan bill would keep prescription prices from rising

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Democrats and Republicans are divided over many issues in Washington right now. But saving you money on prescriptions is one topic bringing the two parties together.

Pamela Hunt, who lives in Fort Myers, depends on several affordable medications to live.

“I can afford $16,” Hunt said, “even if I don’t have a job.”

That is with insurance, but paying for that medicine has not always been so easy. During times when her bank account has a low balance, back when she was between jobs, she has skipped her medication every other day.

“I don’t know how people do it year after year,” Hunt said. “They can’t be healthy.”

Now, leaders in Washington are working to make sure Americans like Hunt do not have to go without those medications essential to their health.

Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator from Iowa, is pushing the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019. The goal of the bill is to keep prescription prices from rising. An issue he is working on closely with democrats, such as Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon.

“This is a bipartisan effort,” Wyden said.

The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the bill discussed on Thursday. It said the bill would save taxpayers more than $100 billion, lower Medicare patients’ out of pocket cost by $27 billion, along with lowering premiums by $5 billion over the next 10 years.

“This is the time to decide if we actually want to reduce drug prices for people,” Grassley said, “or just give the problem lip service.”

However, Hunt is not holding her breath. She does not believe it will happen.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said, “The Senate Finance Committee legislation is the wrong approach to lowering drug prices. It would siphon more than $150 billion from researching and developing new medicines.”

The bill passed the Senate Finance Committee Thursday.

Congressman Francis Rooney said in a statement:

“Greater accountability and pricing competitive with the rest of the developed world is exactly what Americans need. Senator Grassley’s Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act is a good idea and would complement the many bills that I have sponsored in the House of Representatives. I have introduced three bipartisan, bicameral pieces of legislation. The first would ensure Americans do not pay more for prescription drugs than people do in other developed countries, the second would require transparency for pharmaceutical corporations that plan to increase drug prices, and the third would codify President Trump’s rule requiring drug prices in TV ads. With these bills having sponsors in both the House and Senate, I am hopeful that we can pass meaningful reforms that make a difference for Southwest Florida families.”

As leaders look for solutions, folks like Hunt are just trying to get by with the medications they need.

“It’s hard,” Hunt said. “I don’t know how some people do it all the time and live on so little.”

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