WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) voted in the Senate Finance Committee to approve bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs, sending the legislation to the full Senate for consideration. One recent report on the cost of prescription drugs in Virginia found that the annual cost of prescription drug treatment increased by 57.8 percent between 2012 and 2017, dramatically outpacing the 8.5 percent growth in Virginians’ incomes over the same period. The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 (PDPRA), which was approved by a bipartisan Committee vote of 19-9, will help address the rising cost of prescription drugs by taking on industry price hikes and protecting seniors with the highest out-of-pocket costs.
The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 takes key steps to lower prescription drug costs by overhauling the Medicare Part D program and creating a $3,100 yearly out-of-pocket cap to protect seniors with high drug costs. In addition, the legislation creates a price hike penalty for pharmaceutical companies if they raise the cost of a prescription drug faster than the rate of inflation. The bill also includes a provision similar to Sen. Warner’s bipartisan legislation that would allow state Medicaid programs grappling with rising drug costs to explore value-based pricing arrangements that peg the price of a drug to its effectiveness.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 (PDPRA) will save seniors $27 billion in out-of-pocket costs and will generate more than $100 billion in taxpayer savings over the next 10 years.
In Congress, Sen. Warner has long pushed for policy changes to help lower prescription drug costs for Virginia seniors and families. In January, Sen. Warner re-introduced legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices—a move that would cut costs for nearly 43 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D.
Following today’s Committee vote, Sen. Warner released the below video statement:
“Hi, I’m Senator Mark Warner and I want to talk about out-of-control prices on prescription drugs.
“I think every family in Virginia has seen increasing costs on prescription drugs. Matter of fact, the overall cost of drugs in our country have doubled since 2002. I hear on a regular basis from Virginians who say they have to choose between paying for their drugs or paying for food or rent. In a country like ours, that’s just unacceptable.
“I also know how many families have to deal with, particularly, family members who’ve got pre-existing conditions. My three daughters – I’ve got one daughter with juvenile diabetes and another daughter with asthma – and I’ve seen the cost of their drugs go up exponentially. One of the worst cases has been the enormously increasing costs on insulin – a drug that’s been around, literally, for close to one hundred years, yet we’ve seen its prices almost quadruple.
“Now, I’m pretty lucky because I’ve got insurance that takes care of that. But too many families across Virginia and across our country – they don’t have full coverage in insurance, or even within Medicare, many of our seniors are confronted with something called the donut hole where they have to pay too much in out-of-pocket costs.
“Now, in a country like ours, that shouldn’t be the case. So I’m actually proud to report that as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, today we passed legislation that will start to put a cap on drug prices. We’ve put plans in place to make sure that drug prices can’t rise faster than inflation. Matter of fact, the bill that we passed out today ends up saving seniors over $27 billion dollars.
“Now, this legislation doesn’t go as far as I’d like. I actually believe that in America we ought to be able to negotiate for drug prices the same way that other governments do around the world and I’m going to continue to work towards that, but this first step of legislation that we’ve taken today will end up creating savings and put downward pressure on the increasing price of drugs. Now, there’s more work we need to do. We need to get this bill out of the Senate Finance Committee – which we did today – get it to the floor of the Senate, get it passed, and get it to the President’s desk.
“There’s no issue that more Virginians and more Americans face on a daily basis than increasing drug prices and we’ve got to make sure that we continue bipartisan efforts to both bring these costs down and to make sure that as new drugs come to the market, they don’t come to the market with extraordinarily high prices.
“I’ll do all I can to continue this fight but today we took an important first step forward.
“Thanks so much.”