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April 25, 2023

King Introduces Legislation to Fast Track Drug Price Negotiation, Lower Costs for Older Maine People

Initial provisions empowering Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices were signed into law last year

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King is introducing legislation to save taxpayers money on the drugs Medicare purchases for older Maine people by expanding Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices. Last year, Senator King worked to pass the Inflation Reduction Act that empowered Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for the first time. The Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act, would allow the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to begin negotiations one year earlier than under current law and increase the number of drugs that HHS can negotiate starting in 2028.

“The rising cost of prescription medication continues to be one of the most pressing issues facing Maine people,” Senator King said. “Whether it’s a retiree on a fixed income, or a working family trying to make ends meet, these prices pose a serious challenge for people across our state. Last year, my colleagues and I passed the Inflation Reduction Act to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of our older Maine people, and use those savings to deliver new Medicare benefits like the cap on out-of-pocket drug costs. The SMART Prices Act is the next step to expand these long-overdue negotiations and their significant savings. These commonsense changes will help Maine people stay healthy and save even more taxpayer dollars.”

The Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act would:

  1. Allow the HHS Secretary to negotiate prices of Medicare Part B prescription drugs 2 years earlier in 2026.
  2. Increase the number of drugs and biologics that HHS must negotiate to:
    1. A minimum of 20 (rather than 10) drugs in 2026
    2. A minimum of 40 drugs in 2027 and for each subsequent year
  1. Allows drugs to be eligible for negotiation five years after initial approval by FDA.
  2. Increases how much savings Medicare can negotiate for.  

The SMART Prices Act is cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 

The legislation is endorsed by the Center for American Progress, Families USA, Lower Drug Prices Now, National Multiple Sclerosis Society,  Patients For Affordable Drugs, Protect Our Care, and Public Citizen. 

Representing one of the oldest states in the country, Senator King has consistently worked to address the issues facing Maine seniors. In the American Rescue Plan, which King secured $10 billion in broadband funding to help more Maine seniors access life-saving services like tele-health. The legislation also contained funding to lower the costs of healthcare. Building on this success, Senator King worked on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which contained another $65 billion dollar broadband investment that mirrored the Senator’s BRIDGE Act. Senator King has also worked to increase prescription drug price transparencyexpand tele-health services, and expand homecare services for seniors and veterans.

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