Cartwright pushing to lower drug prices

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 2/26/20

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Matt Cartwright, who represents Wayne County in the House of Representatives, is vowing to lower the cost of prescription medications through legislation called the …

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Cartwright pushing to lower drug prices

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Matt Cartwright, who represents Wayne County in the House of Representatives, is vowing to lower the cost of prescription medications through legislation called the Lower Drug Costs Now Act.

Days into the New Year, the prices of 411 drugs increased by an average of 5 percent. Currently, Medicare is legally powerless to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies. The legislation Cartwright is rallying for would change that, allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of insulin products and up to 250 name-brand products that do not have generic competitors.

The bill would also establish a maximum price for drugs, no more than 120 percent the average price of the same medicine in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

The legislation passed in the House last December but still needs to be voted on by the Senate to go into effect. Cartwright has begun a sort of publicity campaign for the bill in the face of Senate Republicans pledging to block it.
The representative recently wrote a guest column in The Times Leader, in which he argues that the country’s healthcare system is under attack in both the executive and judicial branches.

“This year’s proposed budget would slash funding for Medicare by $500 billion and Medicaid by $900 billion over the next 10 years… These proposed cuts would seriously undermine essential healthcare lifelines for older Americans with long-term care needs, children, people with disabilities and those who live in the more rural areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Cartwright wrote. “In the courts, there is a pending lawsuit to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. If successful, this would take healthcare coverage away from nearly 60,000 Northeastern Pennsylvanians, and strip away the protections for more than 280,000 of our local residents who have pre-existing conditions.”
Cartwright recently visited the Abington Senior Community Center to talk with elderly citizens about lowering drug costs and the risks facing Medicare and Medicaid.

The Trump Administration has been publically supportive of the House’s bill, calling for a bipartisan solution to high drug costs. The bill is facing strong pushback from leaders in the Senate, however. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota called it “dead on arrival,” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell preemptively promised to block the potential bill from ever seeing the light of day.

“Socialist price controls will do a lot of left-wing damage to the healthcare system. And of course we’re not going to be calling up a bill like that,” McConnell said.

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