Why It’s Smart for Republicans to Act on Prescription Drug Prices
By John Blanton
 
Going into the 2020 election, President Trump and Senate Republicans must take serious action regarding one of the most highly polled and oft-cited issues of concern: health care. Not only will the issue be key to retaining the White House and our majority in the U.S. Senate, it is also important to state legislative races such as mine in Eastern Kentucky, where economic recovery is ongoing but slow, and there are many constituents dependent upon government programs like Medicare.
 
Next year’s elections will undoubtedly feature close contests nationwide from the top of the ballot on down, but where we can gain a substantial advantage against our opponents and ultimately be successful is by addressing real health care concerns, such as prescription drug pricing. It is no secret that prescription drug prices are astronomically high thanks to big pharmaceutical companies, and they will only continue to increase if policymakers do not push back and make changes.
 
Thankfully, leaders in Washington are taking steps in the right direction to address this ongoing crisis. The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act, which is a bipartisan piece of legislation introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), is gaining traction. The White House expressed support for the bipartisan proposal when it was introduced and stated that it would work with senators and third parties to ensure that the bill advances.
 
Just recently, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) penned an op-ed alongside Grassley to explain how the bill will benefit countless people in their states and throughout all of America. Not only is it great to see legislators supporting this type of common-sense legislation, but it is a smart move for Collins, given her reelection vulnerability.
 
Supporting the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act should be a no-brainer. Not only does it limit drug makers’ abilities to hike Medicare prices beyond the Consumer Price Index inflation rate, it also limits Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket prescription drug expenses to just over $3,000. This legislation would make insurance companies responsible for 60% of the costs over the cap, incentivizing them to negotiate more with drug manufacturers, which would pick up 20% of the tab. All in all, it will save Medicare beneficiaries and American taxpayers $117 billion over 10 years – which is incredibly significant.
 
Regions like mine are suffering due to the high cost of prescription drugs.  Likewise, there are Republican incumbents throughout the nation, from state representatives like myself up to President Trump and U.S. senators such as Cory Gardner in Colorado and Martha McSally in Arizona, who would not only be helping their own reelection chances but also doing the right thing for their constituents by addressing the people’s call for relief from high drug prices. 
 
With high stakes like these, I’m sure our leaders in the U.S. Senate, including my senior senator, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will act to help our people. Reducing the price of prescription drugs is an issue that bridges the divide between Republicans and Democrats, and it seems like nothing short of a winning strategy for Republicans to pass this legislation.
 
John Blanton is a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, representing District 92.
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