Today, AARP announced the launching of a new national media campaign calling on Congressional lawmakers to block the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to raise drug costs by reversing the Medicare Part D doughnut hole deal.
As part of its lobby efforts, AARP will release two national television ads, as well as radio, digital and print ads and video of real patients struggling to pay their high drug costs. The ads will begin running inside the Washington, D.C.-Beltway, also in a number of battleground states around the country.
“AARP strongly supports the deal reached around Medicare Part D doughnut hole coverage in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, providing financial relief for millions of seniors who find themselves saddled with high drug costs,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer, in a statement announcing the new media campaign. “Despite what the pharmaceutical lobby would like Congress to believe, going back on the deal is not a ‘technical fix.’ It’s time the industry put people over profits,” she says.
Pushing the Pharmaceutical Industry to Lower Drug Costs
LeaMond adds, “AARP will continue to fight for what’s in the best interest of our 38 million members – and that includes fighting back on the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to pad their profits at the expense of seniors.”
On February 9, 2018, President Donald Trump signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA). The new law closes the Medicare Part D coverage gap, oftentimes referred to as the “doughnut hole,” on brand name drugs in 2019, and it increased manufacturer discounts in the coverage gap.
Medicare beneficiaries who rely on Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage take an average of 4.5 prescription medications and are hit particularly hard by any rising drug costs. The new Part D doughnut hole provisions in the BBA will save seniors billions of dollars in out-of-pocket costs on their medications by moving them through the drug coverage gap faster, which results in lower co-payments.
“At a time when Americans are struggling to afford high drug prices, Washington needs to do more, not less, to help lower drug costs,” said Ben Wakana, Executive Director of Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, which is advocating forcefully on this issue. “Under no circumstances should Congress give Big Pharma a $4 billion handout and force patients to pay more for prescription drugs. Congress must honor the law and stand up for the seniors they represent, not drug company profits,” he says.
AARP Offers Congress Tips on Lowering Drug Costs
Before the midterm elections and after, AARP gears up its lobbying efforts to push Congress to lower drug costs by suggesting solutions.
The Washington-D.C.-based aging advocacy group calls for Medicare being allowed to negotiate prescription drug costs, which it is now prohibited by law from doing. Medicare should be allowed to use the “bargaining power” of its 60 million beneficiaries to negotiate lower prices, specifically for high-priced brand-name drugs.
The importation of pharmaceutical drugs would lower drug costs by increasing competition for the safe importation of less costly but equally safe and effective drugs from other countries.
Drug prices could also be lowered by increasing price transparency. Currently drug manufacturers are charging whatever they want for their pharmaceuticals with no explanation.
Finally, by quickly getting generic drugs to market, drug prices can be lowered. AARP charges that brand-name drug manufacturers game the system to extend their patents or exploit loopholes to prevent generic drugs from coming to market and calls for the end of these practices. .