U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Joined Health Care Storytellers and Advocates from Across the Country To Call for Giving Medicare the Power to Negotiate for Lower Drug Prices Now
Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) headlined a virtual rally with Protect Our Care to illustrate the growing momentum for keeping Medicare negotiation in upcoming budget legislation. Health care advocates from Alaska to Florida shared their personal stories, demonstrating the dire need for lawmakers to take action to lower drug prices. Voters across the country agree Medicare negotiation is a critical step to lower drug costs and improve care for all Americans.
Congress is closing in on a budget agreement that will transform the lives of American families nationwide. President Biden and Democrats are fighting to include Medicare negotiation and other key health care priorities in the Build Back Better package, but the fight is not over: Big Pharma is ramping up its lobbying and scare tactics to protect its profits and lie to the American people. Today’s event made clear that Democrats will not cower to the demands of drug companies and will deliver on their promises to the American people.
“Too many Americans, and in particular our seniors, have been crushed by the weight of the system. They feel it when the price of their prescription drugs double, when they have to choose to take their medications or pay their electric bill, and when they stretch their supply by skipping doses and rationing pills,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “If we allow the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies, it’s going to mean lower drug prices and billions in savings. We can fix this in this reconciliation bill. This is our moment.”
“The insulin I currently use, Humalog, has a list price of almost $300 per vial,” said Iesha Meza, patient storyteller from Arizona. “I shouldn’t have to make life-threatening sacrifices in order to afford the medication that I literally need to survive. Right now, Congress has the best chance to pass Medicare negotiation than it has had in years. I can envision a reality where I no longer have to live in fear of not being able to afford my insulin. I know I’m not alone; Arizonans like me need lower drug prices and they need them now.”
“People like me have become medical refugees, relying on other countries to provide medicines at affordable prices,” said Travis Paulson, a patient storyteller from Minnesota. “Every day the government doesn’t take action is another day Big Pharma is lining its pockets at our expense. We can’t allow them to get away with what their price gouging is doing to American families. We’re struggling right now, and this is the best chance America has had in years to pass legislation that’ll allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices on behalf of the American people.”
“We need our lawmakers’ support for lower drug prices. It’s crucial,” said Mindy Salango, a patient storyteller from West Virginia. “We’ve all been suffering. Across the country, people are suffering and dying because they can’t afford their medications. They’re rationing their insulin and not taking their medication as they should because they can’t afford it. It’s time it stopped. The time is now!”
“Every patient I’ve served wants the same thing, they want quality, affordable care, which includes the cost of medications,” said Nedra Fortson, Executive Director of Samaritan Clinic and nurse practitioner from Georgia. “This is the number one concern I hear from my patients, regardless of their station in life. Those who can’t afford the cost will either forgo the medication altogether or have to wait weeks for pharmaceutical programs to approve their application for a brand equivalent. Now is the time to act. We need Medicare negotiation now.”
“A lifesaving drug does not save a person’s life if they cannot afford to buy it,” said Jay Gupta, Director of Pharmacy at Harbor Care in New Hampshire. “Medicare helps this country’s most vulnerable populations afford medications, and lower drug prices have the potential to impact every beneficiary. Here’s my appeal to the pharmaceutical companies: please stop making silly excuses, you will only lose pocket change. ”
“I spend $18,000 every ten days to treat my hemophilia and, if you add that up, just for the medicine alone, it’s $670,000 a year. With all the additional costs, it’s well over $750,000 a year,” said Dustin Klein, patient storyteller from Wisconsin. “That’s why it’s so important now that we are able to negotiate for lower drug costs with Medicare and other insurance. We need Congress to act to ensure people of all backgrounds and on all types of insurance are able to benefit from negotiated lower drug prices. Let’s get it done.”
“Americans are tired. They’re tired of the broken system that allows drug companies to charge them three times more for medications than people in other countries. They’re tired of the price increases that come year after year for drugs that have been around for decades. And they’re tired of making impossible choices between putting food on the table and affording the medications they need to survive,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “Congress is closer than ever to putting an end to Big Pharma’s greed and finally giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices for all Americans. With leaders like Senator Klobuchar, there is no doubt we’re getting this across the finish line.”