CU and 20 advocacy groups urge Congress to fix Medicare drug benefit


December 8, 2003

21 consumer, senior, labor and citizen groups ask Congress to fix flaws in Medicare bill
Government must have ability to negotiate discounted drug prices; anything less is giveaway to drug companies and affront to taxpayers

(Washington, D.C.) – A diverse coalition of advocacy groups – ranging from Consumers Union to the NAACP to the Alliance for Retired Americans to Common Cause – today asked Congress to fix the recently passed Medicare prescription drug plan by ensuring the government has the power to negotiate discounted drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
Twenty-one consumer, senior, labor and citizen groups signed a letter authored by Consumers Union and delivered Monday to the Senate and House of Representatives asking Congress to immediately address negotiating drug prices on behalf of seniors. The Medicare bill passed in November and signed into law today by President Bush includes a specific prohibition against price negotiation, even though other federal agencies such as the Veterans Administration have been successful in achieving significant savings through negotiations with drug companies.
“It’s no wonder seniors and the disabled are outraged over the Medicare drug benefit, and consumers are stunned by this giveaway of their tax dollars to pharmaceutical companies,” the letter said, which noted that seniors will pay more out-of-pocket in 2007 when the benefit is fully implemented, than they pay now without the “benefit,” if drug prices continue their historical increase.
“We know Congress can save money for consumers and taxpayers by simply ensuring that the purchasing power of the government is properly used to negotiate lower prices.”
To read a copy of the letter, click here
To read CU’s analysis of the Medicare Bill, click here.
For more information contact: Gail Shearer, 202-462-6262