Lowering Medicare drug costs proposed as deficit reduction strategyAs Republican leaders and the president seek a deficit reduction deal, there is a renewed push to lower the cost of Medicare prescriptions
By: By Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
As Republican leaders and the president seek a deficit reduction deal, there is a renewed push to lower the cost of Medicare prescriptions. It is estimated Wisconsin could save $1.2 billion over 10 years.
The Department of Veterans Affairs negotiates with drug makers over what it will pay for medication. But the government health program Medicare is prevented from doing so. Middleton Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach supports bills in Congress that would change that. He says the United States should not be paying more for medicine than it has to.
“I understand that pharmaceutical companies are for profit companies. I understand there's a lot of research and development that goes into the products that they produce,” he said. “All of that being said, it shouldn't cost us more to get the kind of pharmaceuticals we need to have.”
How much more? A left-leaning economic think tank in Washington says other countries are paying a fraction of what the United States spends for drugs provided through Medicare. For every dollar the United States spends, the United Kingdom shells out 40 cents. In Denmark, it is even lower: 35 cents. Canada comes the closest to U.S. spending at 77 cents.
Nicole Woo conducted the analysis for the Center for Economic Policy and Research.
“If Medicare was able to negotiate drug prices down, honestly, our government spending on health care is much larger than that of a country like Denmark so we should have more leverage,” she said.
The right-leaning Heritage Foundation contends allowing the federal government to negotiate Medicare's drug prices would be akin to price fixing. It says competition among private insurers has kept Medicare premiums from spiking.