On October 10, 2018, a bill titled “Know The Lowest Price Act of 2018”, (S.2553) was passed and signed into law. This legislation stops private insurers from using so-called gag orders that “restricts” pharmacies from offering customers the same drug but at a lower price if they paid out-of-pocket. Turns out the insurance prescription drug plans prohibited the pharmacies from alerting the customer about the difference in price, and customers have been overpaying at the pharmacy counter more than 20 percent of the time. As example, an Rx for high blood pressure medication could be $20 with insurance coverage, but only $8.00 out-of-pocket (if the pharmacy were allowed to inform the customer). It should be noted that 25 states had already made these practices illegal. So, while this practice has been stopped, there are other provisions in other contracts that restrict our government from working to obtain the lower price of drugs for seniors, such as the Medicare Part D agreement with the healthcare industry. After the implementation of Medicare Pt D in 2006, seniors have argued that the provision restricting Medicare from negotiating the costs of drugs with the industry should be repealed, as pricing rates for industry drugs are private and not transparent, and billions in profits are made off of seniors enrolled in their Part D plans. Most seniors will remember the bus trips into Canada in years gone by, in order to save money. On that subject, we need new hearings to pass the “Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act”, and effectively demand that the pharmaceutical industry lower the costs of drugs here in the U.S. We look forward to a change in leadership on November 6th, but seniors must continue to pressure Congress, no matter who holds the Majority in 2019. NARVRE will be working with other senior organizations, like the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), as we urge our members and retirees to contact Congress and insist they begin to work for their constituents, and not their political party. We continue to encourage all members to introduce yourselves to your Members in Congress, especially if you have a new, fresh face elected to the House or Senate. Let them know you are an active NARVRE member and expect them to protect our earned benefits, such as railroad retirement and Medicare.
Gary Faley, Legislative Director