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Federal bill that seeks to lower drug costs heading for vote in House

Looking down on a hand holding an open bottle of prescription drugs.
Sharyn Morrow
flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A bill aimed at lowering drug prices and expanding benefits is heading for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday.

The legislation, known as theElijah E. Cummings Lower Drugs Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) would give Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies to bring down the price of certain costly drugs. Medicare is currently not allowed to do this. 

The legislation would also make the lower prices available to patients covered by private insurance, as well as to patients covered by Medicare.

"Nearly 3 in 10 adults have reported not taking their medicines as prescribed due to the exorbitant costs," said Democratic Representative Haley Stevens (MI-11), a co-sponsor of the bill. 

"Patients in Michigan's 11th District can pay up to $583 for a monthly supply of insulin, compared to just $28 in Australia," said Stevens. "That's clearly preposterous, and it's the cost of these drugs that are pushing people out of the middle class in a dangerous way." 

"We know it doesn't have to be like this. It's not like this in other countries," said Stevens. "We know that we can do a lot better, and that's exactly what this bill does."

According to Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12), also a co-sponsor of the bill, independent experts have said the legislation would save American households $120 billion, save private businesses more than $40 billion, and save taxpayers about $500 billion over ten years.

"With $500 billion in taxpayer savings, we will expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision coverage," said Dingell. "We will invest in finding new cures, and we will work to combat the addiction crisis."

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