WASHINGTON – Following President Donald Trump’s address today on drug pricing, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill issued the following statement:
“What we need now is to hold drug companies’ feet to the fire for their greedy choices that are devastating Missouri families. I was glad to hear President Trump discuss one of the issues I’ve been working on—getting rid of ‘pharmacy gag clauses’ that prohibit pharmacists from letting Missourians know if a drug might be cheaper without insurance. But we also need to be doing more. In particular, I don’t understand why the President backed off the idea of Medicare negotiating drug prices directly, which could bring significant savings for millions of people. If the Administration is looking to work with Congress to lower drug prices, they’ve got a ready and willing partner in me, and in the meantime, I’m going to continue to do all I can to work across the aisle and bring down drug costs for Missourians.”
McCaskill has made tackling rising healthcare and prescription drug costs a top priority in the Senate. In March, McCaskill introduced a bipartisan bill to prohibit “pharmacy gag clauses” that lead to consumers needlessly overpaying for prescription drugs. She recently released a report as part of her role leading the Senate’s top oversight committee that found that prices for many of the most-prescribed brand-name drugs in the Medicare program are increasing at ten times the rate of inflation. She has called for a full review of the actions by health insurer Anthem to deny emergency room coverage for Missourians’ care that is deemed non-emergency.
Following recent reports of families left with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills from air ambulance services after a traumatic injury—for which health insurance companies sometimes only cover a fraction of the costs—McCaskill demanded answers from the leading insurance providers and air ambulance companies in Missouri and introduced a bill to bring greater transparency and consumer protections to the industry, as well as allow states to better regulate medical costs associated with air ambulance services.
McCaskill has also called for answers after a drug company acquired rights to a decades-old cancer treatment drug and hiked the price 1,400 percent over a four-year period. She’s also seeking answers after a decades-old drug—that had been provided free of charge as recently as 2016—had suddenly seen its price soar to a cost of more than $15,000 per bottle. During McCaskill’s time as the top Democrat on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, she joined Republican Chairman Susan Collins to launch an in-depth investigation into prescription drug price increases, and President Trump signing into law the Senators’ bipartisan legislation to increase competition for generic drugs and help lower prescription costs.
McCaskill has introduced legislation to end taxpayer subsidies pharmaceutical companies receive for the billions of dollars they spend on prescription drug advertising each year, which currently is fully tax-deductible. This year, healthcare and emergency room costs were the focus of multiple roundtable discussions McCaskill held in Missouri with ER doctors, patient advocates, and community health workers.