Medicare Drug Costs Higher Than Other Options
Medication prices that Bay Area residents pay under the Medicare drug benefit are higher than some other retail options and prices negotiated by the federal government, according to a report by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee, the Oakland Tribune reports.
For the 10 most prescribed treatments in 2004, prices under the Medicare drug benefit are 75% higher than prices negotiated by other federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, and 60% higher than prices Canadian consumers pay, the report found.
In addition, prices under the drug benefit are almost 5% higher than those at Drugstore.com and about 2% higher than prices at Costco, according to the report.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) requested the report along with:
- Reps. Mike Honda (D-Calif.),
- Tom Lantos (D-Calif.);
- Barbara Lee (D-Calif.);
- Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.);
- George Miller (D-Calif.);
- Pete Stark (D-Calif.);
- Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.);
- Mike Thompson (D-Calif.); and
- Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.).
Legislators representing the Bay Area have proposed legislation to modify the Medicare drug benefit.
Stark and Lee are co-sponsors of a bill (HR 752) that would let Medicare beneficiaries enroll in a "uniform, Medicare-administered drug benefit" and allow Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical firms, the Tribune reports.
Stark also has introduced a bill (HR 3861) that would extend until Dec. 31 the deadline for enrollment in a prescription drug plan without a penalty. Miller co-sponsors the legislation.
Another bill (HR 4685) would guarantee that Medicare beneficiaries receive medications if pharmacies cannot verify beneficiaries' enrollment in a drug plan. Pelosi and Stark are cosponsors of the legislation (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 3/7).
The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the report.
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.