WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen joined their colleagues in introducing legislation to boost Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices and lower prescription drug costs for Granite Staters.
Last year, Senators Hassan and Shaheen worked with their colleagues to pass into law a measure to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which will help to lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors in New Hampshire and across the country. The Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act would build on that work by giving the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enhanced authority to negotiate for Medicare Part D. Specifically, the bill would allow prescription drugs and biologics to be eligible for negotiation five years after approval by the Food and Drug Administration and increase the overall amount by which Medicare can lower prices through negotiation.
“Last year, we took on Big Pharma and moved to help lower prescription drug costs by finally allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of medications. Now we have the opportunity to accelerate this progress through the SMART Prices Act,” said Senator Hassan. “I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense, cost-saving bill. Everyone should be able to afford the medications that they need.”
“Cost should never be a barrier to care for lifesaving medication. That's why I supported provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act to cap insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries and to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices that lower costs for our older adults. While these were historic first steps, more must be done to make prescription medications affordable for more Americans,” said Senator Shaheen. “The SMART Prices Act will build on that progress by strengthening provisions included in the Inflation Reduction Act by expanding and enhancing Medicare’s ability to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to further bring down drug prices for older adults. The American people have paid sky-high prescription drug prices for far too long, and I’m proud to help introduce legislation to reverse that trend.”
The Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act would lower drug prices through Medicare negotiations two years earlier than under current law, and increase the overall number of drugs that HHS can negotiate starting in 2026.
Senators Hassan and Shaheen are leading efforts in the Senate to lower health care costs and make essential medications more affordable. For instance, the most recent government funding bill, which is now law, included three bipartisan measures back by Senator Hassan to increase access to generic and biosimilar medications, which are often cheaper than their brand name counterparts. Senator Hassan also led successful bipartisan efforts to help eliminate surprise medical billing, which has prevented at least 9 million surprise bills. Senator Shaheen has long led action in the U.S. Senate to lower the surging cost of insulin. Recently, Shaheen introduced her bipartisan bill with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the INSULIN Act, to comprehensively address skyrocketing prices, remove barriers to care and make access to insulin available for millions more Americans. Shaheen also led a bipartisan bill earlier this month – the Ensuring Timely Access to Generics Act – to help lower the cost of prescription drugs by increasing competition for generic drugs through better oversight from the Food and Drug Administration. This bill is in addition to previous Shaheen efforts in 2019 and 2020 that would encourage competition in the drug marketplace and close loopholes used to keep cheaper, generic medication off the markets.