Wholesale Prices and Medicare continued...
David Certner, AARP's chief legislative counsel, says increasing drug prices help raise the overall cost of health care across the board. Four million AARP members lack health insurance and must pay out of pocket for their drugs or seek charity help from drug companies if they qualify.
Some seniors with high drug costs may soon confront Medicare Part D's $2,250 coverage limit, also known as the "donut hole." Beneficiaries who surpass the limit must pay all of their drug costs until they reach $5,100 in annual spending.
"These [increases] are being built into the health costs people are paying, one way or the other," Certner says.
Capitol Hill Perspective
On Capitol Hill, both the House and Senate have passed amendments that would legalize some form of prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized nations. No agreement has been reached on a final form. Supporters argue that allowing importation would bring U.S. drug prices closer to typically lower prices paid in other countries.
Certner says AARP will take "one last opportunity" to force Congress to pass a drug importation measure before the end of the year. The Bush administration and drug makers have warned that allowing importation would open up the U.S. market to potentially unsafe or counterfeit drugs.
AARP on Tuesday launched series of television ads designed to put pressure on lawmakers to pass the plan.
In a separate AARP survey, 47% to 48% of Americans over 51 years of age said that prescription costs would be very important in their voting decisions in the upcoming midterm election. One-third of Americans between age 42 and 50 said the issue was very important to them.