Increasing Affordability

If we are going to fix our nation’s broken health care system, we must control the cost of health care and increase access to affordable health insurance.  I believe that by identifying and tackling the issues that are driving up costs, we can make health care less expensive – which is one of my top goals as a member of both the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services.

Prescription Drugs

One significant way we can reduce costs is to get prescription drug costs under control.  Prescription drugs are a critical component of modern medical care.  Yet in recent years, the cost of prescription drugs has skyrocketed, even while seniors have seen their health benefits decline.  As a result, seniors are paying much more out-of-pocket.  The cost for prescriptions is one of the biggest barriers to health care for seniors.  We must find a solution that ensures seniors don’t have to choose between paying for food and heat or health care.  I believe that by expanding Medicare coverage to include a comprehensive, affordable, voluntary prescription drug plan, and by expanding the availability of generic drugs we can help ensure seniors can get the health care they need.

In the Senate, I have worked to expand access to prescription drugs and make them more affordable, while at the same time safeguarding Washington residents from harmful drugs and misleading advertising.   For example, I helped write legislation to make generic drugs available faster without jeopardizing true innovation.  The bill would close frivolous loopholes that drug makers have used to delay generics. 

In addition, I have supported bills, including:

  • The Affordable Care Act— The health care reform law includes significant improvements to the Medicare Part D program.  Washington seniors will begin to see dramatic and immediate improvements to their Medicare Part D benefits.  Those seniors who fall into the gap in coverage in 2010 will receive a $250 check this year to help offset the cost.  Additionally, this law includes measures that will bring an end to the dreaded “donut hole” gap in coverage by 2020. - More

  • Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007 – This legislation would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower drug prices. 
  • Drug Rebate Equalization Act of 2007 – I cosponsored this bill to reduce the costs of prescription drugs for enrollees of Medicaid managed care organizations by extending them the discounts offered under fee-for-service Medicaid plans.
  • Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2007 – This legislation would provide an approval pathway for safe biosimilar and interchangeable biological products, such as vaccines, blood and blood components, allergenics, and gene therapy.  I helped pass this bill out of committee to provide consumers with more drug choices and – hopefully – lower costs for prescription drugs. 
  • Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act – In 2002, I worked to pass this bill, which rewards research and development and improves market access for generic prescription drugs.