Wyden introduces bill to cap drug costs under Medicare

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday introduced a bill aimed at protecting seniors from high drug costs, an issue that has attracted growing scrutiny. 

Wyden’s measure would cap drug cost-sharing for Medicare enrollees so that seniors would not have to pay out of pocket costs above a roughly $7,500 cap. 

In 2013, 2.9 million people in Medicare’s prescription drug program had to pay costs above that cap, Wyden’s office said. 

“Escalating drug prices are increasingly straining the budgets of families in Oregon and across the country, particularly seniors in Medicare who often have to take multiple costly medications to stay healthy,” Wyden said. “It defies common sense that protection from high out-of-pocket costs exists for almost all other types of health coverage, but not for traditional Medicare.”

Wyden points out that the Affordable Care Act already caps out of pocket costs under health insurance plans sold on the law’s marketplaces, but that the same protections don’t always apply in Medicare. 

Wyden’s bill, the Reducing Existing Costs Associated with Pharmaceuticals for Seniors Act of 2016 (RxCAP), would likely increase government spending, as it shifts more costs onto Medicare instead of the consumer, though it is unclear exactly how much it would cost. 

Rising drug prices have been a prominent issue on the campaign trail, and the Obama administration has also been taking action