Rosen bill seeks to lower prescription drug copays for seniors

FILE - Pharmaceuticals are seen in North Andover, Mass., on June 15, 2018. (AP photo/elise amendola, file)

By Casey Harrison

May 2, 2024

The bill would require Medicare copays to be calculated on the net price the healthcare program purchases a prescription drug for, rather than its pre-negotiated list price.

Nevada Democratic US Sen. Jacky Rosen on Wednesday announced a bipartisan proposal aimed at reducing prescription drug prices for seniors.

Dubbed the Reducing Drug Prices for Seniors Act, the legislation would require Medicare to calculate a prescription drug’s insurance copayment (i.e. copay) based on its price after the federal insurer negotiates the price it will purchase the medication for. That differs from the current system, where the copay is calculated based on the drug’s list price (which is often higher), according to Rosen’s office.

“No Nevadan should have to break the bank to pay for their life-saving medication,” Rosen said in a joint press release with the bill’s other sponsor, Republican John Cornyn of Texas. “I’ll keep working across the aisle to provide more breathing room for families in our state.”

Added Cornyn: “Countless seniors in Texas face challenges with high out-of-pocket cost of prescription drugs. I am proud to support the Reducing Drug Prices for Seniors Act, which aims to ease the financial burden by lowering costs and improving access to potentially life-saving medications.”

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The Senators gave an example stating if a senior had a 50% copay on a medication with a $200 list price, he or she would pay $100 out-of-pocket. But if Medicare purchased the drug for $150, that patient would only pay the $75 copay.

The bill has also earned the backing of senior citizen and medical advocacy groups including the Sanford Center for Aging, the Nevada Cancer Coalition, the Lupus Foundation of America, and several others.

For the Nevada Cancer Coalition, which provides assistance and resources to cancer patients navigating their diagnosis, passage of the bill would be especially impactful for people taking more than one medication.

“Many older adults are living with chronic diseases, including cancer, that require one or more drugs to treat and maintain,” executive director Cari Herington told The Nevadan in a statement. “For cancer survivors, these critical and often costly drugs may be needed for many months to many years. Reducing out-of-pocket costs for these medications reduces the financial burden for older adults and increases adherence, which may lead to lower healthcare costs down the road.

“No one should have to choose between paying for needed medications or paying for food and housing,” Herington added.

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

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