Sen. McSally’s bill goes further than previous Republican-backed bills, but not as far as one passed in the House last year.
Drug prices in the U.S. are sky-high, and finding a solution hasn’t been easy.
From 2012 to 2017, the average annual cost of prescription drugs increased by more than 50%, while Arizonans’ annual income only increased by 12%.
Because of this issue, a bipartisan coalition worked together to pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act through Congress last year that would have saved taxpayers millions.
However, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, or H.R. 3, stalled in the Senate thanks to Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Martha McSally.
Now, critics say McSally is stalling even further by introducing the Lowering Prescription Drug Prices for America’s Seniors and Families Act of 2020 that doesn’t go as far as H.R. 3.
McSally’s bill seeks to allow Medicare to directly negotiate prices of some drugs and to cap out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs at $3,100 per year. However, H.R. 3 would set a maximum for how much can be charged for a couple dozen prescription medications, including insulin, and cap seniors’ annual out-of-pocket Medicare costs at $2,000.
Some critics point to McSally’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies as possible reason for why she won’t vote for the more comprehensive measure. According to campaign finance records, the senator has received nearly $500,000 from the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries.
Before introducing her bill, McSally supported another measure aimed at lowering prescription drug prices – the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA), or S. 2543. This bill was also criticized for not going far enough to make medications affordable.
McSally has made health care, especially for seniors, one of her main issues as she runs to keep her seat this year. She has also faced backlash for her vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, going back on promises to protect pre-existing conditions, and voting multiple times to cut Medicare and Medicaid.
Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, who is seeking to take the Republican senator’s seat in Congress, has spoken in support of H.R. 3. Kelly also supports a public healthcare option and more oversight of hospital costs.
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