February 13, 2016

Reducing cost of Medicare meds

Wisconsin could save as much as $1.2 billion over 10 years if the federal government were allowed to negotiate Medicare drug costs in the same way as other nations. Nicole Woo of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. is a co-author of a new economic analysis. “Other developed countries around the world spend about half as much per person on their healthcare and most of them — or almost all of them — have higher life expectancies. We really don’t get a good bang for the buck with our healthcare spending in this country.”

Negotiating Medicare drug prices is currently forbidden by federal law. Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, says Congress should lift the 10-year-old prohibition. He says rather than cutting benefits, Medicare should be allowed to use its buying power to bargain for discounts.

Woo says the federal government could save as much as $541 billion over the next 10 years and beneficiaries nationwide could save $112 billion in premiums. As for Wisconsin beneficiaries… “If you look at beneficiaries in Wisconsin, they could save almost $1.9 billion over ten years in their premiums for Medicare.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs and Wisconsin’s SeniorCare program already enjoy discounts on the very same prescription drugs as a result of negotiating power.

State Representative Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) says he knows people in his district that have gone to Canada to fill their prescriptions to get a better price. Democrats in Congress plan to re-introduce the Medicare Drug Savings Act in the coming weeks.

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