AARP To Launch Medicare Rx Price Negotiation Plan
AARP is launching a newspaper and radio advertisement campaign in 10 states and Washington, D.C., urging the Senate to approve legislation (S 250) that would allow the federal government to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, USA Today reports.
A provision in the 2003 Medicare law specifically bars the government from negotiating prices under the drug benefit. The House in January approved a bill (HR 4) similar to the Senate proposal.
AARP has selected certain states for the ads "in an effort to influence senators whose votes could make a difference" -- in most cases undecided Republicans -- USA Today reports.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), an author of the bill, said he has the support of about 58 of the 60 senators needed to allow a vote on the proposal. A two-thirds majority ultimately would be needed to override an expected presidential veto if the bill were approved.
The ads will "clash on the airwaves" with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America's advertising campaign in opposition to the proposal.
AARP Director of Advocacy Management Fred Griesbach said that "the drug companies are going absolutely crazy trying to stop this from happening."
PhRMA Senior Vice President Ken Johnson said the Medicare drug benefit can be improved, but not by allowing government price negotiations.
The Congressional Budget Office has said that government price negotiations would have little effect on drug prices in the absence of drug formularies, which are not included in either the Senate or House bill (Wolf, USA Today, 3/26).